A new “anti-terrorism” law in Saudi Arabia has stipulated the death penalty for anyone who commits or funds terrorism, as well as imprisonment for anyone who criticises the rulers.
Saudi Arabia unveiled tough new laws against “extremism” and criticism of the country’s leadership on Saturday, before a raft of high-level arrests were made against senior princes, ministers and leading businessmen.
The new law will support a sentence of at least 15 years in jail for anyone found guilty of misusing authority, educational training or social media guidance to support “extremism”.
Under the new law, anyone who refers to the king or to the crown prince directly or indirectly in terms that “challenge religion or justice” will be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in jail.
Suspects who carry firearms or explosives will be jailed up to 30 years and no less than 10 years, the new law says.
A jail term of between 10 and 25 years awaits anyone who sets up a terrorist cell or holds a leading position within it.
The sentence will be between 10 and 30 years if the suspect is a military officer or serviceman who received training with a terrorist organisation.
Those who incite others to join terrorist groups, to participate in their activities, or to fund them in any form will face from eight to 25 years in jail.
Providing terrorists with shelter, medical treatment, and a place for meetings or a means of transport will lead to 20 years in jail.
Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has unveiled reforms and promised to bring Saudi Arabia back to “moderate Islam” in a bid to attract foreign investment to the country.
Many Saudi scholars, activists and princes believe the new laws are aimed at censoring criticism of the regime, as well as normalising relations with Israel.