Gharam Al-Bishi – Pioneer in Charity Work in Saudi Arabia Turns into a Prisoner Supporting Terrorism
In September of 2017, the Saudi security authorities launched a massive campaign of arrests against a large number of scholars, preachers, jurists, academics, activists, and many figures from the Saudi society. These arrests were carried out by the state security forces – a service that was established by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman after he assumed the mandate of the Covenant-.
The Saudi preacher known for his charitable work Gharam Al-Bishi was among those arrested. He worked in a number of government sectors in Saudi Arabia, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Royal Court, and was the first to appear on Bidaya channel.
The Saudi authorities’ arrest of Al-Bishi sparked widespread controversy among the Saudi community, especially since he worked as a preacher in the Royal Guard during the era of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, and was famous for his charitable work in various regions in Saudi Arabia.
He was also known by the Saudi masses as he appeared in the Mishraq program On Bidaya channel, which was broadcast every Thursday every week. The idea of the program was an interactive community idea; hosting some elderly people who lived in different places in Saudi Arabia, and a light dialogue with a sense of humour were made between them. He also presented another program on the same channel called it “top-up”.
After his arrest, his grandmother recorded a video that went viral on all social media, in which she appealed to King Salman and his son, MBS to release her grandson, saying that he was never known to break the law or go against the authorities, as he has no political activity, and only works in charitable work.
Many violations against Gharam Al-Bishi took place during his first period of detention, the most prominent of which was denying him the right to communicate or receive visits from his family. The authorities also prevented him from appointing a lawyer to defend him before being presented before the prosecution and the court. The authorities tried him in secret sessions that he was not aware of anything that happened during these sessions.
The Specialized Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced Al-Bishi to six years in prison, on charges all related to his charitable and societal activities, according to what the prisoners of conscience’s Twitter account tweeted. According to the Twitter account Al-Bishi was known for collecting donations to charitable societies in the Kingdom, and organisations for memorizing the Noble Qur’an, especially in remote villages of the Kingdom. The authorities accused him of collecting these donations to support terrorist organisations.
The twitter account also wrote about the violations that took place against Al-Bishi including torture by shackling his hands and feet with metal chains for long periods. He also spent the first months of his detention shackled in his feet to insult him. They also abused him verbally and called him names.
Together for Justice Organisation condemned the authorities’ mistreatment of Al-Bishi and called on the Saudi authorities to respect his legal and human rights, enable him to enjoy all his rights, and release him, especially since the charges he was tried for lack evidence, and his trial that took place in secrecy as well as information of being subjected to torture.