Arabic press review: Well-known cleric latest arrest in Saudi Arabia

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Sheikh Nasser al-Omar joins a list of prisoners of conscience, including religious leaders, writers and thinkers, behind bars in the kingdom

Sheihk Nasser al-Omar was reportedly arrested last week (Twitter/@anees115)
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Last update: 
Tuesday 14 August 2018 14:19 UTC
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Renowned cleric arrested in Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities have arrested a university professor and well-known Islamic cleric, adding another person to the list of prisoners of conscience in the kingdom which has witnessed a widescale campaign of arrests for months, according to al-Quds al-Arabi.

The London-based newspaper confirmed the arrest last Tuesday of Sheikh Nasser al-Omar, a former professor at Imam Mohammed bin Saud University, and pointed out that he had stopped tweeting since his arrest.

Omar’s arrest comes as part of an ongoing wave of detentions of prominent Saudi clerics, writers, thinkers and activists. 

Last September, the Saudi authorities interrogated Omar, and he has pledged not to interfere in political issues or allude to them.

Abdullah al-Odah, the son of Sheikh Salman al-Odah, one of the most prominent detainees in Saudi Arabia, told the paper that Omar was arrested in Mecca on Tuesday.

'State of alert' over King Salman's health: Mujtahid

One of Saudi Arabia's most popular Twitter accounts, which usually publishes intrigue about the royal family, reports of an unprecedented "medical alert" declared over King Salman, aged 82.

On Sunday, the "Mujtahid" Twitter account wrote: "A sudden state of alert has been declared at the level of the medical staff taking care of the king. The image has not been clear about the reasons for such state, whether it was precautionary or therapeutic."

There are doubts, he wrote, about King Salman's ability to participate in various receptions to welcome delegations during the pilgrimage season which begins in Mecca in a few days.

He added: "Family circles are talking about more than that," referring indirectly to a possible deterioration of the king's health.

UN delegation visits Hamas in Gaza

A team of aides to Nikolay Mladenov, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, met with Hamas leaders during a three-hour visit to the Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

During the visit, they discussed a ceasefire established between the group and Israel last Thursday after Israeli air strikes destroyed the al-Meshal Foundation cultural centre in Gaza City.

They also re-examined the details of a UN-Egyptian proposal for a long-term truce, the paper reported. 

The visit of the delegation coincided with Israeli warplanes waging a series of raids on groups of people who were launching fiery kites in Gaza, which wounded three young men.

Record levels of Algerians want to be French

At least 70,000 Algerians have requested French citizenship over the past 18 months, according the Algerian newspaper Echourouk El Yawmi.

A representative of the Algerian Veterans Centre in the French army told Echourouk that a record number applied directly for citizenship or are children or grandparents who have relatives who served in the French army.

Those who served in the French army and their relatives can present a 'Veteran in the French Army' certificate to gain their citizenship.

According to the French interior ministry, between 1998 and 2017, around 400,000 Algerians obtained French nationality this way and also through marriage and naturalisation.

* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.