A Saudi television anchor has been banned from his own talk show after leveling criticism against the dismal performance of a number of government institutions as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against pro-democracy campaigners, Muslim preachers and intellectuals continues unabated in the conservative country.
According to a report published by the Arabic-language al-Weeam online newspaper, Ali al-Olayani disapproved of the Riyadh regime’s preparedness and response to social issues.
The report added Olayani’s comments were much to the chagrin of several viewers, who took to social media networks and strongly demanded his dismissal.
The show, called “Maali al-Mowaten” which means “Dear Citizen” in Arabic, was aired on Dubai-based Saudi-owned MBC 1 television network earlier this week.
The 60-minute social talk show purportedly seeks to cover all social issues that affect the everyday life of the ordinary Saudi man such as unemployment, education, family, medicine, women, and others.
Saudi Arabia has recently stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution, and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
Saudi regime forces have also intensified crackdown in Eastern Province.
Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime. Regime forces have increased security measures across the province.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.
In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.
The Saudi regime is currently grappling with an international crisis over the murder of prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a distinguished commentator on Saudi affairs who wrote for The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, had lived in self-imposed exile in the US since September 2017, when he left Saudi Arabia over fears of the Riyadh regime’s crackdown on critical voices.
Hatice Cengiz, the journalist’s fiancée, has accused Saudi officials of a massive cover-up.