Two Saudi nationals have been handed down prison sentences for joining “Arab Spring” protest rallies that broke out in the Arab world in 2011 and toppled several dictatorial regimes.
The convicts were given three- and four-year sentences for falling under the influence of “the ideologically corrupt to cause chaos and join protests…at a mosque in Riyadh,” according to the tribunal, Saudi paper al-Watan reported.
The grass roots rallies started out in Tunisia before spreading to Libya and Egypt, toppling the nations’ respective autocratic governments.
The movement gave voice to public anti-regime outrage in various other locations across the Muslim world, most notably in Bahrain.
The protests against the ruling Al Khalifah family are still raging across Bahrain, with the regime in Manama attempting to quell dissidence with the help of Riyadh’s military, in a crackdown that has killed scores of people since 2011.
In Saudi Arabia, the protests have not managed to grow much beyond Internet campaigns.
The kingdom has redefined its “anti-terrorism” laws, notably expanding the remit of its security forces and judicial system.
Human rights bodies denounce the measure as a ploy to extend the arm of the law against political malcontent.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, "dozens of human rights defenders and activists are serving long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms.”