Ali al-Omari

Ali al-Omari

Ali al-Omari

One of the most popular Islamic personalities in the Arab world. Has hosted over 10 Islamic programs before starting his own Youth Awareness channel. Grew up in Syria when his father worked for the Saudi embassy there and has always included Syrian news and events in his programs. Spoke about the arab spring and how the simple people took control of their lives once again.
Imam, writer, detained in September 2017, pending trial, prosecutors demanded his execution for his alleged membership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ali al-Omari, the chairman of TV channel 4Shbab and a talk-show personality, is one of many prominent religious media figures swept up in Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s wide-ranging crackdown against dissent. He faces at least 30 terrorism-related charges, including "forming a terrorist youth organization," and a potential death sentence. Al-Omari was detained either on September 9 or September 10, 2017, according to Reuters and the Saudi human rights-focused Twitter account “prisoners of conscience". Ali al-Omari was the chairman for the TV channel 4Shbab, a channel that The New York Times and the Guardian reported was started in 2009 by an Egyptian entrepreneur as an Islamic version of MTV. Al-Omari’s personal website lists him as the chairman of the channel, as does a 2016 report in the Saudi newspaper Okaz, and Al-Jazeera reported in September 2018 that al-Omari had directed the channel.  Videos on 4Shbab’s YouTube channel indicate that since at least mid-2017, it adopted talk show-style programming focused on religious and cultural issues. Videos of al-Omari feature him giving lectures or conducting interviews in a talk show format. Al-Omari also regularly posted clips of his speeches and talk show discussions on his personal YouTube channel, which has nearly 800,000 views and is linked to 4Shbab’s YouTube channel, opining on topics such as applying religion in daily life and the Syrian revolution. According to a 2013 Reuters report, Saudi Arabia is the biggest per capita user of YouTube in the world, and young Saudis in particular use the platform to access content ranging from religious to satirical and to discuss social issues not covered in the kingdom’s traditional media outlets. Al-Omari also published articles on his own website on topics ranging from religious issues to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey. Al-Qst quoted a press release issued September 11, 2017, from the Saudi Presidency of State Security, a government entity that acts as an umbrella for the kingdom’s counter-terrorism, intelligence, and security forces, as saying that an unspecified number of unnamed suspects were arrested for their "espionage activities" and for "working for foreign agencies against the security, interests, way of life, resources and communal peace of the kingdom with the aim of stirring up dissent and damaging the fabric of society." The article did not mention Al-Omari by name but included a photo of him among other Saudi religious and public figures who had been detained around the same time as al-Omari’s reported detention. In September 2018, The Wall Street Journal and the Qatari outlet Al-Arabi al-Jadeed reported that Saudi authorities had begun trying al-Omari in a specialized criminal court on at least 30 terrorism-related charges, including "forming a terrorist youth organization." Both outlets also reported that Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor was seeking the death penalty against al-Omari. Middle East Eye reported May 21, 2019, that al-Omari was one of three defendants who had been sentenced to death by a Saudi court, but Al-Qst director Yahya Assiri denied this in a tweet, saying that prosecutors were seeking the death penalty against the three but that no sentence had been handed down. According to Assiri, the trial was ongoing as of May 2019.

Personal information

Name: Ali al-Omari

Name in Arabic: علي العمري

Date of Birth: 2 November 1973

Gender: Male

Marital status: Married

Profession: Academic , Cleric , Journalist

Place of residence: Jeddah

Arrest and jail information

Date of arrest:9 September 2017

Manner of arrest: In a raid on his home by armed security personnel

Where held: Jeddah - Dhahban Central Prison

Trial information

Alleged crimes: Unknown

Victim's charges: The Public Prosecution charged against "Al-Omari" more than 30 charges; Among them is the formation of a "youth organization to achieve the goals of a secret terrorist organization inside the Kingdom."
The prosecution revealed, "the existence of facilities for the accused to hold meetings with terrorist Brotherhood elements inside the State of Qatar, and his meeting with 5 leaders and members of the group, including a member of the ruling family there, and the two wanted Yusef al-Qaradawi and Ali al-Sallabi."
The prosecution accused Al-Omari of "targeting, attracting and training young people under a religious cover, by participating in educational seminars and programs, volunteer work and advocacy activities, and working to gain confidence in the symbols of the organization by teaching their books and adopting their ideas in implementation of hostile agendas for this country and to achieve foreign interests."
He was also accused of “establishing offices affiliated with the Brotherhood’s organization in Arab countries concerned with the youth category, attracting and training them, joining them in programs and activities with the intention of joining them in the aforementioned organization. Annually, establishing a center for studies and research in one of the neighboring countries, issuing books dealing with youth, establishing a magazine with the intention of spreading the ideology of the terrorist Brotherhood group and promoting it, and establishing a restaurant and coffee shop in Jeddah governorate to gather youth and spread Brotherhood ideology among them, "according to the newspaper.

Court: Specialised Criminal Court (SCC)

Verdict: Believed to have been sentenced to death (unconfirmed)

Date of verdict: Believed to have been sentenced to death (unconfirmed)

Updates on trial: Unknown

Previous arrests:

Human Rights Violations

Violations: Arbitrary arrest/ detention , Denied contact with family , Denied access to a lawyer , Torture and ill-treatment , Observers denied access to court hearings, Placed in solitary confinement

Violation details: Placed in solitary confinement


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