RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has detained a prominent imam and preacher at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, activists said, after he reportedly delivered a sermon criticising mixed public gatherings, Al Jazeera has reported.
The social media advocacy group Prisoners of Conscience, which monitors and documents arrests of Saudi preachers and religious scholars, said on Sunday that Sheikh Saleh al-Talib was arrested after he delivered a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak out against evil in public.
Khaleej Online reported link that in his sermon, Talib, who also serves as a judge in Mecca, derided the mixing of unrelated men and women at concerts and other mixed entertainment events.
While there was no direct criticism of the Saudi royal family in his speech, the kingdom has in recent months relaxed laws on female attendance at public events.
Saudi Arabia has yet to issue an official statement on the issue.
Hours after his reported arrest, both of al-Talib's Engish and Arabic Twitter accounts were deactivated.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Yahya Assiri, a UK-based Saudi human rights activist, said the kingdom's "authorities are looking at everyone that's influential and has a presence on the scene".
He added: "Even those that have kept quiet or pledged allegiance to the state, even those that have been drumming up the authorities and their initiatives, even these are not safe."