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Woman Gets a 45-Year Prison Punishment for Doing What Most People Do Online Every Day

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

A Saudi court has condemned a lady to 45 years in prison for allegedly causing harm to the country through her social media account, as per a court report on Wednesday. It was the second such sentence that has drawn the investigation of the region this month. Presently, not much is known other than her using social media.

Saeed al-Qahtani was born of one of the largest tribes in Saudi Arabia and has no evident record of activism. An authority charge sheet seen by other news outlets and human rights groups portrays her case as involving her online entertainment use, however, Saudi authorities didn’t answer demands for input.

The sentence follows a worldwide uproar over a comparable 34-year jail sentence given over to Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi doctoral understudy at Leeds University in England. It all sounds like it is just another case of socialism and people are getting thrown in prison for speaking against something over there maybe, but could you imagine if all it took to change or upset a country was by using social media? In today’s world, that might not be far from the truth…

Recently this month, a technical criminal court served the 45-year sentence under the kingdom’s expansive counterterrorism and cybercrime regulations. That court, which ordinarily handles political and public safety cases, gave the sentence during al-Qahtani’s appeal of her prior conviction. The judges stand firm in their charge and are reprimanding al-Qahtani for “disrupting the cohesion of society” and “destabilizing the social fabric,” as indicated by the charge sheet, referring to her action on social media. They affirmed that al-Qahtani “offended the public order through the information network.”

However, there is a shroud of mystery behind the allegations. No one seems to be able to say what exactly al-Qahtani posted on the web or where her hearing was held. She was arrested on July 4, 2021, as indicated by the Washington-based human rights watchdog Democracy for the Arab World Now, which is vital to the kingdom.

“This seems like the beginning of a new wave of sentences and convictions by new judges who have been placed in the specialized criminal court,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, DAWN’s regional executive. The Freedom Initiative, another Washington-based human right group, likewise condemned al-Qahtani’s unfair treatment and uncalled-for sentence. “It’s very hard to ignore the fact that we are seeing these sentences as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has received increased legitimacy in the international realm,” Allison McManus, the gathering’s analysis executive said.

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The social media sentences stand out enough to be noticed in Prince Mohammed’s crackdown on disagreements, even as the traditionalist Islamic country has given women various new freedoms such as the freedom to drive. Then we have Joe Biden, visiting as if he is going to do something and as if anyone would take him seriously or is intimidated by him, as he stumbled in July for a gathering with Prince Mohammed, wherein he said he confronted him about human rights. Biden came to office promising to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the 2018 killing of Saudi reporter Jamal Khashoggi.