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Shia Woman in Saudi Arabia Sentenced to 34 Years in Prison for Retweets

Screenshot/BBC
Screenshot/BBC

A court in Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia sentenced a Saudi woman and adherent of Shia Islam to 34 years in prison on Monday for using her personal Twitter account to “create public turmoil and destabilize civil and national security” by re-Tweeting posts demanding the Saudi government release women’s rights activists from prison, Turkey’s Hürriyet newspaper reported on Wednesday.

A Saudi terrorism court sentenced Saudi citizen Salma al-Shehab to 34 years in prison on August 15. She was originally sentenced to six years in prison but appealed her sentence and was assigned an increased prison term of 34 years on Monday. Al-Shehab’s latest sentence includes an additional travel ban forbidding her from leaving Saudi Arabia for 34 years after she serves her prison sentence.

Al-Shehab was a doctoral student at Leeds University in the U.K. but was visiting her native Saudi Arabia on vacation in January 2021 when Saudi authorities arrested her for recent social media activity.

Al-Shehab is a follower of Shia Islam, making her a religious minority within Saudi Arabia. Roughly 90 percent of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million citizens identify as Sunni Muslims.

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