DUBAI, April 13 A Saudi court has ordered a
liberal Internet forum to permanently close for publishing what
it described as anti-Islamic material, Saudi media reported on
The decision by the general court in Jeddah came less than
nine months after the editor of the "Free Saudi Liberals"
website, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to seven years in jail and
600 lashes for setting up a forum that violated Islamic values.
"By order of the court, this network has been closed
permanently," said an administrative message on Badawi's website
International human rights groups and activists inside Saudi
Arabia say the kingdom's authorities are seeking to curb
political, religious and social dissent in the birthplace of
Islam. The government denies there is a crackdown.
Saudi news websites www.akhbar24.com and wwww.sabq.org said
that the Jeddah court's ruling was due to "the subjects and
comments that had been published in the past in violation of the
teachings of the religion (Islam) and which had stirred
A Justice Ministry spokesman said he was checking the
Saudi media last July reported that a court found Badawi,
who was arrested in June 2012, guilty of setting up an Internet
forum that violated Islamic values and propagated liberal
thought. It also convicted him of disobeying his father - a
crime in the conservative kingdom.
Badawi's website had included articles that were critical of
senior religious figures such as the Grand Mufti, according to
Human Rights Watch.
The world's top oil exporter follows the strict Wahhabi
school of Islam and applies Islamic law, or sharia.
Judges base their decisions on their own interpretation of
religious law rather than on a written legal code or on
King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's ruler, has pushed for reforms
to the legal system, including improved training for judges and
the introduction of precedent to standardise verdicts and make
courts more transparent.
However, Saudi lawyers say that conservatives in the Justice
Ministry and the judiciary have resisted implementing many of
the changes announced in 2007.
(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Stephen Powell)