By Josh Babb
By Josh Babb
The Saudi Scholar Association, a group claiming to represent scholars and academics within the country, released a statement on Twitter Thursday calling for MBS to be dethroned. The statement is seen in part as a response to the deepening diplomatic crisis engulfing Saudi Arabia over the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist who often wrote critically of his country.
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The statement can also be seen as a response to a wave of arrests that have included journalists, academics, and religious figures inside Saudi Arabia beginning in September of last year, perhaps signifying a deeper power struggle for the future of the country.
MBS had widely been seen as a reforming figure by Western media, who cited him as responsible for lifting a ban on women driving as well as the showing of films inside Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi’s death has cast a dark shadow over such claims.
The statement, originally published in Arabic, also accuses MBS of “spreading social and administrative corruption with incompetence, and wasting public money on what is not useful.” The Saudi Scholar Association’s Twitter account, not a verified account, first began posting statements online in September.
Usamma al-Azami, a lecturer on Islamic Studies based in the UK, spoke to the press regarding the authenticity of the account. “It is difficult to say how much this reflects the religious establishment because all the major figures who could have been remotely oppositional appear to be imprisoned.”
Just last month three prominent clerics within Saudi Arabia were sentenced to death by state prosecutors for publicly disagreeing with MBS’ new policy towards Qatar.