Saudi Arabian cleric sued over retweet

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A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric is being sued by an official in the Gulf state over claims he ‘re-tweeted’ a defamatory post on Twitter, it has been reported.

According to English language Saudi Gazette, Shoura Council member Issa Al-Gheth filed a case against Muhammad Al-Oraifi at the Riyadh District Court on Saturday after the latter re-tweeted a poem Al-Gheth considered defamatory of himself. Al-Oraifi has more than 4.5m followers on the popular social networking site.

Al Gheth filed the case, the first of its kind seen in the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom, after his request for an apology failed to elicit a response.

“If a person says something wrong about another, he should ask for forgiveness and apologize. I asked Al-Oraifi, whom I respect a lot, to apologise for what he did but he did not respond to my request,” Al-Gheth told the newspaper.

The article did not specify the contents of the tweet or why Al-Gheth considered it defamatory of himself.

Al-Gheth claimed that 30 Shoura Council members had been “verbally attacked” by Twitter users, and he was seeking to “put an end to such insults”.

Saudi Gazette said the court session was adjourned until May.

Twitter is one of the most popular means of online communication in Saudi Arabia, where freedom of speech is heavily curtailed. There are about 3m regular Twitter users in the kingdom.

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