Former Imam-e-Kaaba gets 10 years jail for criticising ‘mixed gatherings’

Sheikh Saleh al-Talib, prominent ex-Imam of the Grand Mosque of Makkah, was detained in 2018


News Desk August 26, 2022

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a prominent former imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah to 10 years in prison after he reportedly delivered a sermon criticising mixed public gatherings.

The Specialised Criminal Appeals Court in Riyadh sentenced Sheikh Saleh al-Talib to prison after overturning a previous acquittal, Middle East Eye reported quoting US-based rights group Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn).

Saudi authorities first detained Talib in 2018 and gave no reason for his arrest, which came after he delivered a sermon criticising the General Entertainment Authority, a government body in charge of regulating the entertainment industry, according to activists.

He had condemned concerts and events that he said broke away from the country's religious and cultural norms.

Also read: Saudi Arabia 'detains' prominent imam for criticising mixed gatherings

The imam has a global following, with thousands of people watching his sermons and recitations of the Holy Quran on YouTube.

His arrest comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues his drive to reform Saudi society and diversify the kingdom's oil-dependent economy.

Khaleej Online had reported that in his sermon, Talib, who also served as a judge in Makkah, derided the mixing of unrelated men and women at concerts and other mixed entertainment events.

Dawn, a group founded by the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirmed Talib's court sentencing on Twitter.

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