Two Syrians have been arrested by Riyadh police for their social media activity regarding Syria, according to local newspaper Riyadh.
Samer Lababidi allegedly shared a picture of himself making the victory sign, with the caption “#CongratulationsAleppo” on his Facebook page on Thursday. His post came as troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took control of the former rebel stronghold of East Aleppo amid airstrikes and reports of civilian casualties.
The Syrian resident of the Saudi capital had previously shared images of Syrian regime soldiers, describing them as “tigers,” and declaring “victory in Aleppo”.
Some have expressed strong criticism of Lababidi and support for his arrest:
خطير— الــــوَاثِــــق ؛؛ (@alwathiq21) December 14, 2016
شبيح سوري يسكن في الرياض ، يصرح بتأييده لبشار الأسد ويؤيد قتل أهلنا في حلب
ساهم في فضحه بـ pic.twitter.com/QVPAyKlAhT
Serious. A Syrian living in Riyadh, declares his support for Bashar al-Assad and supports the killing of our people in Aleppo. Help expose him.
Meanwhile, pro-Assad commentators have expressed support for the Syrian and criticism for the Saudi government using the hashtag #FreedomForSamer.
Riyadh police also reportedly announced the detention of another Syrian, Muhammad Feras Abara, who had supposedly tweeted an image of a large photo of Assad in his office at a private hospital in the city. The HR official had also reportedly expressed support for the Syrian regime and its army in his social media posts.
صور | عبر حسابه في فيسبوك .. "محمد فراس عباره" مسؤول التوظيف بمستشفى الحبيب بـ #الرياض يحتفل بقتل السوريين في #حلب، ومطالبات بالقبض عليه pic.twitter.com/UyP6RGHNWz— السعودية (@KSA) December 16, 2016
Through his account on Facebook... "Mohammed Feras Abara" HR official at Al-Habib Hospital in #Riyadh celebrated the killing of Syrians in #Aleppo, demands for his arrest.
Saudi Arabia is a strong supporter of the Syrian rebels and called on Saturday for an end to “war crimes against humanity” by Assad’s regime in Aleppo.
This is not the first incident of authorities in the Gulf State arresting individuals for their social media content. A young Saudi woman was arrested last week after a photograph on her Twitter account showing her without a hijab or abaya in a Riyadh street gained huge attention. Public expressions of dissent are a criminal offense in the ultra-conservative kingdom.