Today judge Yousef Gharam Allah Al Ghamdi of the Specialized Criminal Courts used the new antiterrorism law to sentence human rights activist Waleed Abulkhair to fifteen years in prison, two hundred thousand Riyal fine and another fifteen years travel ban upon Abulkhair’s release.
For more background on the Abulkhair case and the new antiterrorism law, click here.
Here is some of what many Saudis on Twitter have written about the court’s verdict:
1- Waleed does not deserve this and we do not deserve someone like Waleed defending us. God help him.
2- How are we supposed to create a civil society that supports the government with all of Saudi’s civil society’s leaders behind bars?
3- Fifteen years prison for Waleed Abulkhair and before him Albajadi, Alhamid, Alqahtani, Alkhadir, Alsaeed…etc. Reformers and rights advocates are taken down one after the other.
4- God knows that Waleed is a noble man and a champion of the oppressed. All we know of him is honor and honesty.
5- These sentences against citizens who peacefully demanded their rights transforms them in the eyes of the people to activists and symbols of freedom.
6- Words seem small against the siege of antiterrorism laws and arbitrary sentencing of a national and peaceful human rights activist.
7- Only in my country are human rights activists and reformers imprisoned while Al Qaeda terrorists are set free and religious police thugs are acquitted.
8- God help you and your family, Waleed. You are known for your fight for freedom and justice.
9- Change will not come from nothing and we will not perish as long as there are free men like Waleed in this country.
10- We are extremely harsh with those who speak against the country’s policies and then wonder why extremism is born here.
11- Human rights activists like Waleed prove that the government is not interested in moderates and reforms.
12- Waleed did not carry a weapon and he did not declare his desire to decapitate men. His only sin was to tell the truth. He will rise above. Please do not forget in your prayers the (imprisoned) members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.
13- Waleed is peaceful and loves peace. He has not killed and has not committed any sin. His gun is paper and his bullets are words. This is not a verdict, it is spite.
14- There is nothing left to be said. Everything is clear now. This country is heaven for the corrupt and a ditch for reformers.
15- No free man, no matter his linguistic and cultural talents, in the current circumstances, has the ability to vindicate Waleed. All glory to Waleed.
16- Prisons have become an honor and an aspiration for every person who straightforwardly speaks his mind. God help the oppressed.
17- Terrorist and traitors are rehabilitated and then released while human rights activists are imprisoned.
18- Orders of arrests are issued now and again for both liberals and conservative with the purpose of shutting up all Saudis.
19- The men in power are creating a heroic figure of Waleed in a country where 60% of the population are under 35 years of age and have much in common with him.
20- In solidarity with Waleed Abulkhair.
21- Did you know that a father who rapes and kills his own daughter is sentenced eight years while human rights activists get more than ten years.
22- When will the judiciary understand that imprisoning Waleed for his peaceful activism increases frustration and pushes youth to resort to means of violence and extremism?
23- In plain Arabic, in this country you cannot open your mouth or else you are destined for prison.
24- If Waleed’s prison guards realized how much he has sacrificed to defend human rights, they would kiss his forehead and apologize for their inability to help.
25- Today we are all Waleed Abulkhair.
26- Those who call for the rights of people are imprisoned and fined while those who rob the country of its wealth are at liberty.
27- Waleed is a husband, a father of a month-old girl, a lawyer, a hard-working family man and an active individual in the community ..
All I know of him is his conscientiousness.
28- In the law of tyranny, reform is a felony that calls for imprisonment.
29- There was no betrayal. They are peaceful advocates for justice and freedom with a great love for their country. And the result is a fifteen year sentence for Waleed. How can you justify that?
30- Reform and freedom of thought is a bigger crime here than bribery and theft.
31- My country, you have jailed a good man who loves you. How strange you are to rehabilitate bombing terrorists and imprison peaceful activists.
32- Read contemporary history and look around .. Has the oppression of peaceful activism led to its termination and social stability or the opposite?
33- This is violent oppression of those who use peaceful methods and then we are shocked when others resort to assassinations and bombings.
34- Waleed called for reforms and justice and this is the court’s verdict! He is now on the path of the activists and constitutionalists who have gone before.
35- This verdict has shaken all who fear for the security and stability of our country. The ruling is shocking and frustrating.
36- When a country is too small to contain the free, prison becomes an honor and distinction.
37- It is to be expected. The greater the government’s fear of rights activists, the greater its thirst to imprison them. As long as the fear remains, so do their names.
38- They keep making the wrong wager. They have never won since Albajadi, Alqahtani and Alhamid and now Waleed. Waleed’s ideas and words pledge that every day there will appear a new free patriot.
39- Waleed, we will remember your name while the names of the oppressors will be forgotten or will fall in shame. The story of your faith and resilience will always stand.
40- Waleed, I rule that you are free and will never be conquered. I rule that you are more of a patriot than all of the MOI’s employees behind the fake Twitter accounts combined. This is my ruling as one of the people.
41- People who instigate jihad and terrorism deserve prison and not patriots who want reforms and the betterment of our country.
42- ISIS is knocking on our doors, Egypt is exploding in anger, Bahrain is unstable, Kuwait is witnessing civil movements and we are pursuing people and imprisoning them.
43- I worry that such harsh ruling on those who have never taken up violence will have dire consequences in the end.
44- Governments that fight peaceful human rights activists so that they succumb to it, push the naive to violence. However this fight will only increase the resilience of the free and highlight their causes.
45- God help Waleed! He shouted the truth while we remained silent. He championed the oppressed while we failed them. He defended the imprisoned while we cowered.
46- Waleed Abulkhair is a defender of human rights who we are proud to say has consistently defended human rights for years. He has defended many and today we must all stand by him.
47- Fifteen years for speaking about corruption cases and reforms? He never defected, incited violence, stole or murdered! How can this verdict be?
48- ِEvery day Waleed spends behind the bars of the oppressors will be another day of victory for Waleed. Waleed will not be the last station in the peaceful struggle for dignity.
49- Time will prove that the banner of freedom has not fallen, and the struggle will continue. The bet is on the resolute!
50- Your smile is stronger than their shackles. Waleed was sentenced to fifteen years for calling for reforms. He never carried a weapon. He was concerned for his country and so he was repaid with prison!