Last updated: 11 April, 2012

Radical Saudi cleric jailed 5 years for incitement

A Saudi court sentenced a radical cleric who fiercely supports the segregation of the sexes to five years in prison on Wednesday for “incitement” against the kingdom’s rulers, media reported.

Yussef al-Ahmad was also sentenced to a five-year travel ban and fined 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,600/20,235 euros) said, the website of Al-Eqtesadiya daily.

The cleric, who was arrested in July, had been charged with “disobedience to the rulers and incitement against them,” the website said.

Concretely, he called for destroying the Grand Mosque, home to the Kaaba — Islam’s holiest shrine — and rebuilding it in a way that would make it impossible for the sexes to mix during pilgrimages.

Ahmad was arrested after he posted a YouTube video in which he blamed King Abdullah, Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz and his deputy for the lengthy periods that people in Saudi Arabia can be detained without trial.

Rights activists say thousands of Saudis fall into that category, even though the law lays down a six-month limit.

Ahmad’s two Egyptian employees were each sentenced to two years in prison to be followed by deportation.

The three have asked to appeal the ruling.