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Saudi women’s rights activist released from prison after nearly 3 years

(Asian News Hub) – Loujain al-Hathloul, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights campaigners, was released on Wednesday after spending over 1,000 days in prison for what critics have called as politically-motivated charges.

Hathloul will remain on probation for three years following her release, during which time she could be arrested for any perceived illegal activity and she will also be banned from traveling for five years, her family said in a statement in December last year, reported CNN.

The 31-year-old activist was arrested in a May 2018 sweep that targeted well-known opponents of the kingdom’s since-rescinded law barring women from driving.

In December 2020, Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court had sentenced Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison, including a two-year and 10-month suspension, according to her family’s statement.

With the time she had already served, the sentencing paved the way for Hathloul’s release on Wednesday.

Release political prisoners: US to Saudi Arabia
Hathloul’s release comes after the White House has called on Saudi Arabia to release political prisoners, including women’s rights activists with President Joe Biden has vowed to pressure Saudi Arabia into improving its rights record, according to CNN.

‘We’re excited (about her release), but the fight for justice is not over yet… We would have to work very hard to secure justice for Loujain, but we’re very delighted for this news,’ Hathloul’s brother, Walid al-Hathloul, told CNN before the announcement.

‘Any release that does not include an independent investigation of the charges, does not include lifting the travel ban, does not include dropping the charges, is not freedom… Therefore we’re far away from justice,’ he added.

The terrorism court convicted Hathloul on charges of harming national security, seeking to change the Saudi political system, and using her relations with foreign governments and rights groups to ‘pressure the Kingdom to change its laws and systems,’ according to a charge sheet her family published earlier in December. United Nations (UN) experts called the charges ‘spurious.’

CNN further reported Hathloul saying that she was sexually assaulted and tortured while in detention, including waterboarding, flogging and electrocution, according to multiple statements released by her family and supporters.
Saudi terrorism court

A 2019 American Bar Association Center for Human Rights report said that although the Saudi terrorism court was created in 2008 to prosecute terrorism detainees, its ‘caseload was quickly expanded from alleged violent extremists to include political dissidents, religious minorities and human rights activists.’

During her detention, Hathloul received multiple awards, including the 2019 PEN America award.

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Middle East

Saudi Arabia starts recieving Umrah requests from Foriegners

(Asian News Hub) – Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday receiving Umrah requests from foreign performers from Aug. 9, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

For the concerns over COVID-19, only the vaccinated and the recovered will be provided with permissions, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced.

The Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat said the authorities determine the countries from which Umrah performers come, and their numbers on a periodic basis according to the classification of preventive measures.

He called upon the performers to adhere to organizational plans and health procedures set by the ministry.Saudi Arabia received on Nov. 1 foreign pilgrims under tight precautionary measures to perform Umrah for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic early last year.

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Middle East

Iran’s President-elect Raisi vows to do his best to solve people’s living problems

(Asian News Hub) – Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that the new government will make every effort to solve the country’s problems, particularly the living problems of the people.

He made the remarks speaking to reporters after a meeting with Iranian Parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Qalibaf went to congratulate Raisi on Saturday after preliminary results of the Friday election showed that Raisi was so far ahead of his rivals that left no doubt that he will be the next Iranian president after Hassan Rouhani leaves office in early August.   

Raisi said that he will consult with the Iranian parliament speaker and other Members of Parliament, as well as all experts, to form a government which could maintain the trust of the people.  

Raisi also told reporters after a meeting with President Rouhani that he will make use of the experiences of the incumbent government.

The president-elect expressed hope that his government will be able to carry out the heavy burden of the duty that the people placed on his shoulder.

IRNA

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Middle East

Al-Hassan: The best young volunteer in the Middle East

(Asian News Hub) – Al-Hassan Al-Fakih, has done different types of volunteer work year after year. Actually, he has become the first person in the world to provide humanitarian aid to a thousand people through humanitarian initiatives and campaigns, community service initiatives, initiatives to prepare and qualify university students, educational initiatives in remote areas, and initiatives to reconstruct damaged houses.

Al-Hassan has around seven thousand hours of volunteer work under his belt, and his passion to help others led him to do amazing things! He started by launching the Yadan Biyad “Hand in Hand” initiative which aimed at reconstructing damaged houses in remote areas in Yemen and Jordan. This initiative helped reconstruct fifty houses, and also distributed two hundred school bags to two hundred less fortunate students aged between four and seven.

Al-Hassan, twenty-one years old, also established a youth foundation in 2019 which aimed at preparing university students for the labor market. The foundation actually held various workshops to train, empower, qualify, and prepare around 180 university students for life after graduation.

All that was not enough for Alhassan! Therefore, he established the Intilaqat Khair (Spread of Goodness) initiative in Yemen to support families affected by war in remote areas there. This initiative managed to hand out around three hundred food parcels to three hundred families in different governorates of Yemen, and it also helped twenty needy people there to find jobs!

Alhassan Al-Fakih is the first person in the Middle East to provide humanitarian aid to a thousand people through seven thousand hours of volunteer work!

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