Saudi Activist Kamel Abbas al-Ahmed
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information says activist Kamel Abbas al-Ahmed is being detained after criticising the regime. ANHRI

Rights groups have condemned the detention of a Shia activist in Saudi Arabia for his support of religious freedom

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has condemned the detention of

Kamel Abbas al-Ahmed is an engineer and brother of a Saudi dissident, Ali Abbas al-Ahmed, who is the head of the Gulf Institute in Washington.

The organisation said al-Ahmed was arrested by the authorities and taken to an unknown destination but failed to produce an arrest warrant or give reasons for his detention.

ANHRI said it is not the first time al-Ahmed has been arrested and he has already been "detained for nearly nine years in the Kingdom's prisons without clear reasons. His passport was also seized almost 18 months ago to deny him freedom of travelling outside the country".

Al-Ahmed recent problems with the authorities started in 2009 after he rejected the remarks of Adel al-Kelbani, the Imam of Grand Mosque of Mecca, who had said Shia Muslims are unbelievers, ANHRI said.

Following the Imam's comments al-Ahmed joined a group of political activists made of writers and intellectuals who issued a statement accusing the Saudi authorities of being responsible for sectarian discrimination against Shia Muslims in the Kingdom.

The statement also added other Islamic sects that differed from the regime's Salafi ideology were also discriminated.

The document also accused the authorities of actively preventing Shias from participating in the management of the state and of excluding them from any decision-making at the national level.

Since then al-Ahmed has continued to criticise the regime and fight for religious freedom and against religious discrimination.

ANHRI warned the regime has launched a crackdown on intellectuals and writers in the Kingdom's eastern province following protests for more political reform and the release of prisoners they say are being illegally detained.

"ANHRI is deeply disturbed over the ongoing policing approach of the Saudi regime against democracy and human rights defenders, while it also refrains from applying any reforms in its racist government that persecutes religious minorities and women", the organisation said in a statement.

ANHRI has now called on the Arab and international community to step up pressure against Saudi's "shameful human rights record".