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Saudi professor detained over article-rights group

Saudi princes jostle over succession, position sons.

December 7, 2010 11:50 by

Saudi authorities have detained a university professor over an article that speculated about the effect of power struggles within a ruling family on the country’s future, a Saudi human rights group said.

“The wife of Dr. Mohammed (Abdul-Kareem) said… that four civilians and some soldiers came to their home (on Sunday) and asked for her husband,” the Human Rights First Society said in an emailed statement on Monday.

“A few minutes after leaving with them he called back on his mobile to tell her he was going to … prison and would be back in the evening, but he has not returned,” it said.

Interior ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki, asked about the reported detention, said he had no information.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with no elected parliament. It is ruled by octogenarian leaders and King Abdullah, thought to be 86 or 87, is in the United States for medical treatment after back surgery.

Abdul-Kareem’s article, “The crisis of political struggle within the ruling factions in Saudi Arabia”, was first published on Facebook and later picked up by websites and blogs, Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, president of the Human Rights First Society, told Reuters.

The article touched on the scenario of a kingdom that falls because of struggles within the ruling family and questioned the patriotism of Saudi citizens and their fate if the Saudi kingdom collapsed.

The princes at the top of the Saudi hierarchy are in their 70s and 80s. While official media paint a picture of family unity, tensions remain between the senior princes over who will run the country and over securing key posts for their sons.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif, editing by Tim Pearce)

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