Saudi Arabia fans sentenced to jail time for chants

Twelve Saudi Arabia soccer fans will serve jail time between six months and one year for chanting a religious song during a Saudi Division One match. Police questioned and investigated over 150 people in the days after the match.

Police charged all twelve with “undermining public order through the spirit of sectarian intolerance by passing sectarian content in places of public gathering and inciting social strife.” Another charge for two of the defendant was “sending what can undermine public order using the internet and electronic devices”.

Saudi police arrested the fans after a video of supporters chanting a Shia religious song spread across social media. The fans were reportedly celebrating the birthday of Imam Ali. Shiites recognize him as the first caliph and is second only to Muhammad in Islam culture.

Saudi Arabia is the sole bidder for hosting rights to the 2034 World Cup and was the only nation to submit a bid before FIFA’s deadline.

Saudi court decision criticized by press

The twelve fans could face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $800,000 in American dollars. This is due to Saudi Arabia’s widely criticized cybercrime law.

Many report the jailing of Shia soccer fans is one injustice in a long line of Shia oppression from the Saudi government. In a rigid Sunni state, Shiites have suffered economic neglect, exclusion from certain jobs, and repression.

Despite recent reforms by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, many Shias still face discrimination from a majority Sunni population.

“At a time when the Saudi authorities are spending billions on sportswashing and laundering their image globally, the arrest of these football fans is the latest stark illustration of their massive crackdown on freedom of expression,” Amnesty International director Heba Morayef said in a statement. “In this case, a minority religious group was exercising their right to express their religious folklore.”


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Author : Deolu Akingbade

Publish date : 2024-03-31 14:00:00

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