Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi Arabian citizen who is also a Leeds University student, is not having fun at the moment and she may not be on her favourite social media platform, Twitter, any time soon as she will be off to prison for the next 34 years.
Salma’s offence is that she has a twitter account and has been following and retweeting those the Saudi Arabian authorities consider as dissidents and activists.
The student who recently returned to the Gulf kingdom from a holiday at her university in the United Kingdom was sentenced by a Saudi special terrorist court just weeks after the US President, Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia, a move criticized by many as a catalyst for more oppression of women and human rights.
Saudi leader, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is known for his arbitrary clampdown on social media and attempts to control narratives by buying huge stakes in publicly listed social media companies.
Salma al-Shehab, 34, a mother of two young children, initially had a three year sentence for using the internet to cause “ public unrest and destabilise civil and national security”.
However, the new sentence of 34 years in prison and same amount of years for travel ban was handed over to her after an appeal. Her new charges include “assisting those who seek to cause public unrest and destabilise civil and national security by following their Twitter accounts” and by re-tweeting their tweets.”
Far from leading a vocal Saudi dissent, Salma describes herself on social media “ as a dental hygienist, medical educator, PhD student at Leeds University and lecturer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, and as a wife and a mother to her sons, Noah and Adam.”
An appeal against the sentence may still be possible.
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