On 22 February 2016, Saudi police reportedly beat and arrested a UK national inside the Al-Masjid al-Haram mosque during the Umrah pilgrimage. According to several Scottish media outlets, Saudi police beat Edinburgh Resident Kausar Uddin in front of his family after he supposedly tripped and fell into a policeman. Uddin’s family and other eye witnesses claim that he was attempting to regain his balance when he reached out and accidentally grabbed the Saudi official. The Saudi officer reportedly responded by beating Uddin with his baton. After several other officers joined in the beating, they eventually carried Uddin to a hospital where he was treated before being officially detained.
Saudi authorities have also seized Uddin’s passport and prevented his family from communicating with him. After Uddin’s wife and children reached out to friends in Edinburgh, they were advised by the UK Foreign Minister’s Office and British Embassy to flee the country before their visas expired.
Saudi authorities ultimately permitted Uddin to make several brief phone calls to his family, during which he described poor prison conditions, such as overcrowding. Now, a friend of Uddin’s claims that government officials informed him they would likely hold Uddin in incommunicado for at least three weeks. Arbitrary and incommunicado detention, as well as torture and physical abuse, are common occurrences within the Saudi criminal justice system, as documented in ADHRB’s reports The Basis of Brutality and Pretense of Progress.
William Jay is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB