Son of Saudi preacher flees to defend his father and ‘save what could be saved in my country’

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Nasser Al-Qarni, the son of detained Saudi preacher Awad Al-Qarni, has left the kingdom and reached a “safe place” to defend his father. The prominent preacher was arrested along with Sheikh Salman Al-Oudah and Ali Al-Omari by the Saudi authorities in September 2017 over “terrorism charges”.

The three clerics were believed to have been arrested because they did not back Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s policy towards neighbouring Qatar. A year after the arrest of Al-Qarni, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor demanded the death penalty be issued against him.

Announcing his departure from the kingdom in a video on Twitter, Nasser Al-Qarni explained that he had to leave Saudi Arabia for “a safe place” from where he would defend his father and campaign for his release. “I went out to defend my father and other detainees” said Al-Qarni in the video which has been viewed 1.5 million times. He added that to speak while inside the kingdom would lead to his arrest.

Al-Qarni claimed that he could have been arrested even while being silent because he is the son of a prominent cleric. Commenting on the efforts to release his father, Al-Qarni said that the family had exhausted all possible means to end the “oppression he is subjected to.”

In his final message Al-Qarni said he had left to “save what could be saved in my country.” He added that Saudi Arabia has slipped in many ways. “Unfortunately, my country is falling down, not only in terms of human rights, but in all areas, socially, economically and politically.”

“The dreams of young people are being wasted and their rights are being violated with harsh rulings,” Al-Qarni warned. “Unfortunately, this injustice will creep into every house, will knock on every door,” he said, claiming that the Saudi regime has even gone after people who are silent, including government officials.

READ: Saudi activist sentenced to 16 years for tweet

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