x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Critical essay lands Saudi editor in jail

University professor who raised questions n his Facebook page about how the country¿s royal successions are handled has been arrested, say sources.

RIYADH // Saudi authorities have arrested a university professor who raised questions about how the country's royal successions are handled in a recent essay on his Facebook page, according to a Saudi magazine and another Saudi source.

Mohammed al Abdul Karim, an assistant professor of sharia, or Islamic law, at Imam Muhammad bin Saud University was taken from his home on Sunday and transported to Hae'l prison near Riyadh, the magazine Umma Conference reported on its website.

The magazine, at which Mr Al Abdul Karim serves as chief editor, also posted his essay, which questions why ordinary Saudis have no choice in selecting their leaders. It also speculated about how the kingdom's security might be affected if rival factions within the royal family began fighting amongst themselves.

Titled "Searching for the Saudi People's Destiny", the article has also landed in countless email inboxes in recent days as Saudis shared it with friends.

In a response to a request for comment about the arrest, the interior ministry spokesman said he would look into the matter.

The detention of Mr Al Abdul Karim comes amid heightened public interest in royal succession after the hospitalisation of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, 86, who recently underwent two operations on his back in a New York hospital.

Crown Prince Sultan, who is in his mid-80s, has also been ill. Their advanced ages and health issues have sparked speculation among Saudis about who might succeed them, although most believe that the interior minister, Prince Nayef, who serves as second deputy prime minister, will take charge.

cmurphy@thenational.ae