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Saudi arrests Shiite imam for ‘glorifying’ Hezbollah

Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah
Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah

RIYADH: Saudi security forces have arrested a Shiite preacher in the east of the kingdom, charging that he “glorified” Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah online, a newspaper reported yesterday. Hussein Al-Radi was detained after Gulf Arab states declared Hezbollah a “terrorist” group earlier this month and brought in tough new measures against anyone supporting it.

The Al-Watan daily reported that security forces arrested Radi, of the Al-Ahsa oasis region of Eastern Province. “This is after he glorified the terrorist group Hezbollah and insulted the kingdom in a video clip that has been shared” online, the report said.

Radi “also broke previous pledges he had made after defending the terrorist Nimr Al-Nimr following his execution,” it added. Nimr, another Shiite cleric from Eastern Province, was a driving force behind protests that began in 2011 among the Shiite minority in Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia, who complain of marginalization. He and three other Shiites were in a group of 47 people executed on January 2 for “terrorism.” The newspaper quoted a security source as saying authorities had “met with patience” a number of violations Radi had allegedly made. “But he continued to incite the public, taking advantage of the mosque platform to breach regulations.”

Iranian demonstrators stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and a consulate following Nimr’s execution, prompting Riyadh to cut diplomatic ties. Other Gulf states have also taken measures against alleged Hezbollah supporters since the terror blacklisting. Bahrain announced it had deported several Lebanese residents for alleged links to the group. A Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Monday that authorities there had taken similar action against 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis. And the United Arab Emirates has reportedly put seven people on trial for allegedly forming a cell linked to Hezbollah.- AFP

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