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Saudi Feminist Activist Detained although Country Claims It Is ‘Increasing Women’s Rights’

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Local Editor

As Saudi young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman touts ‘moderate Islam' and makes a public display of giving women more rights, human rights activists say the kingdom is quietly arresting women's rights activists.

Noha al-Balawi

Human rights activist Noha al-Balawi, who is based in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, has been held in detention for 17 days and could be imprisoned for up to five years for advocating for women's rights on social media, activists say.

"She is very vocal on Twitter and Snapchat, she advocates for women's rights and women who drive. She asked to represent the people and the country in Parliament," Yahya Assiri, director of the London-based human rights group Alqst, told Newsweek.

"They don't want activists to get involved. Women haven't had any rights until now, and they are still arresting people."

The activist was arrested on January 23, and has been held by police in Tabuk ever since, rights groups say. Police allegedly questioned her about her Twitter account and about videos she posted online.

Meanwhile, the police said Balawi could be tried under Article 6 of Saudi Arabia's anti-cybercrime law, which aims to punish anyone who creates or transmits information deemed "prejudicial to public order."

If she is found guilty, she could face up to five years in prison or be hit with an $800,000 fine. She is expected to appear in court on Monday, activists added.

Saudi Arabia has made a big show of giving women more rights in recent months.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team