Sheikh Mekhlef bin Dahham al-Shammari

Sheikh Mekhlef bin Dahham al-Shammari

Location: Khobar, Saudi Arabia
26° 17' 23.7336" N, 50° 12' 48.1644" E
Status: Under Arrest
Arrested on 15 Jun 2010

Other arrests: al-Shammari was arrested first on May 15, 2010, over articles he had published attacking hard-line religious views, and briefly detained then released on bail.

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According to HRW the prominent Saudi human rights activist, Sheikh Mekhlef bin Dahham al-Shammari, 57, who is being held in Dammam General Prison, has been arrested by police in the town of Khobar on May 15, 2010, "over articles he had published attacking hard-line religious views, and briefly detained him, releasing him on bail. One month later, on June 15, criminal investigation officers again arrested al-Shammari, in Jubail, and detained him in the Khobar police station. Then on June 20, the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution registered case number 2029/255/31 against him with the charge of "annoying others," according to his file in Dammam General Prison, to which he was moved in early July."

In his April 18, 2009 article, "My Dear Christian," al-Shammari contrasted the work of an American Christian who was killed while working to protect Palestinian Muslim children with the conditions imposed by Saudi Muslim charities that recipients must exhibit proper Islamic conduct.

In an article on December 24, 2009, al-Shammari praises Britain's Prince William for sleeping one night on the street with homeless people in freezing temperatures, and at the same time deplores the fact that no Saudi prince or businessman has spent even three hours in a poor family's home.

In a March 2, 2010 article, al-Shammari jokes about "annual greed" when the government doles out money as reward to "loyal" citizens, but without any discernible criteria for who receives the money, or how much.

On March 28, under the title "Excuse Me, Your Princely Highness, but You Have Failed," al-Shammari describes promised tourism projects that failed to materialize under a Saudi tourism official, Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abd al-‘Aziz, and says, "I don't know why they lie to us and then ask us to trust them."

Two articles criticize conservative religious views. On January 1, al-Shammari took issue with a description by a Sunni preacher, Muhammad al-‘Arifi, of the revered Shia leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as an "obscene, irreligious atheist."

And in an April 23 article, a reporter quotes al-Shammari decrying controversial religious figures - Yusif al-Ahmad, Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak, Nasir al-‘Umar, Muhsin al-‘Awaji, and Muhammad al-Nujaimi, who is a government employee - for their opposition to reform, neglect of pressing problems such as unemployment and poverty, and insistence instead on the importance of "moral" questions such as the mixing of men and women.

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