Saudi Arabia arrests Shiite religious leader for "exalting" Hezbollah

Hussein al-Radi detained in the Eastern Province as part of the "war" launched by the Gulf States against supporters of the Lebanese militant group. He had already come under fire from the authorities for defending Nimr al-Nimr. In a video posted online he described him as a "hero".

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi security forces have arrested a Shiite religious leader, accused of exalting Hezbollah. According to the Arabic daily Al-Watan, Hussein al-Radi (in the photo) was arrested in the context of the "war" launched by the Gulf States – led by the Saudis - against the the Lebanese Shiite armed militant movement, described as "terrorist" . The region's governments have therefore set out a series of punitive measures against any "supporters".

Hezbollah is a Shiite militant armed group, whose influence in Lebanese politics has grown more in recent decades. Allies and supported by Iran, they have put their military force at Assad’s service in fighting fundamentalist militia of al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda) and the Islamic State (IS), inflicting heavy defeats.

The Shiite imam was arrested in the region of Al-Ahsa, in the Eastern province.

Hussein al-Radi is accused of having "exalted" the deeds of the "terrorist group Hezbollah" and "insulting the kingdom" in a video "published and shared" online. He has also "broken agreements signed earlier" with the authorities, who had already indicted him "for defending the terrorist Nimr al-Nimr after his execution."

In early January the Saudi government decided to execute 47 people for "terrorism", including the Shiite dignitary Nimr al-Nimr, leader of protests by the Shiite Muslim minority in the country denouncing an attitude of "marginalization." The execution has triggered a wide protest in the capital and other Iranian cities, resulted in the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashad.

In response to the attack several of the Arab world and the Gulf governments have decided to withdraw its ambassador to Iran, Qatar including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan, sparking a political crisis (and religious) in the Muslim world between Sunnis and Shiites.

In a video recorded March 20 Radi last, with a bushy white beard, speaks from a podium lauding Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, calling him a "hero." He also spoke of Iran as a regional and international power.

Ibrahim AlMugaiteeb, president of Human Rights First Society, an activist movement based in the Eastern Province, says he is not surprised by the arrest of Radi. He adds that it is not permissible to detain such a senior religious leader, although it is equally true that he " pushed the envelope" with his statements.