Will Saudi Arabia execute one of its top clerics? | UpFront

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In this week’s UpFront, we ask Silicon Valley visionary Jaron Lanier about the latest New York Times allegations against Facebook and explore his main criticisms against social media.
And in a Special Interview, we talk to Abdullah Alaoudh, the son of imprisoned Muslim cleric Salman al-Awdah, about the Saudi crown prince’s crackdown on dissent and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Is Facebook ruining the world?

Facebook is once again under fire. This time it follows a report by the New York Times that claims the giant tech company hired a political consultancy firm to target opponents, in an attempt to distract from growing pressure over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election using Facebook.

Jaron Lanier is a Silicon Valley pioneer, public intellectual and author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Right Now. When asked if the current leadership team at Facebook are the right people to run the company, he said that CEO Mark Zuckerberg should step down.

“I think it would be good for the world if he stepped aside. But the point is that there’s no mechanism for him to do so,” says Lanier about Zuckerberg. He calls Facebook a “one-man shop” without governance.

Lanier also explains why he thinks social media can be dangerous and why people would be better off if they just switched off.

Editor’s note: A web extra accompanying this interview will be posted online on Saturday, November 17.

Saudi cleric’s son: ‘Everyone is threatened’

Soon after Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, was appointed Saudi crown prince in 2017, prominent Muslim cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah was arrested, allegedly for his refusal to tweet in support of the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

In September 2018, prosecutors applied for him to be sentenced to death.

UpFront speaks with al-Awdah’s son, Abdullah Alaoudh, who is based in the United States and is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University.

“The charges actually represent how the state would crack down on any different view and on any person who disagrees,” says Alaoudh.

In this interview, we also asked him about Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia is now seeking the death penalty for five people accused of the gruesome murder of the journalist.
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