Saudi Arabia has called on its citizens to report any suspected “terrorist activity” on social media via a phone app, a move denounced by a human rights watchdog as “Orwellian”.
“When you notice any account on social networks publishing terrorist or extremist ideas, please report it immediately via the application #We‘re_all_security,” the Ministry of the Interior wrote on Twitter,
The app was launched last February to enable civilians to report traffic violations and burglaries.
Hours later, the Saudi public prosecutor tweeted a section of the Kingdom’s terrorism law which stipulates that “endangering national unity, obstructing the Basic Law of governance or some of its articles, and harming the state’s reputation or status are terrorist crimes.”
The prosecutor added in his tweet that “any action committed by an individual criminal or group — directly or indirectly – intended to disrupt the public order or destabilise the security of the state or society” is also considered a terrorist crime.
The appeal, which was reported to have been part of a series of steps by the Saudi government in its war against terrorism, especially after several deadly blasts that targeted mosques and other important facilities in recent years, coincides with an apparent crackdown on potential government critics and a call by exiled opposition figures for demonstrations.
In recent days, the Saudi authorities have detained a number of prominent clerics, intellectuals and activists, including prominent Islamist cleric Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda, according to media reports.
Lists of detained activists have been circulated on social media showing that the number had risen to 30, including some with no clear links to Islamist activity or obvious history of opposition, according to Reuters.
A call for mass protests to be held in the country today has not been heeded following the mass arrests.