King Abdullah has made his first public appearance in four weeks when he received senior princes and clerics in his palace Tuesday afternoon in the Saudi capital Riyadh. The state television played footage showing members of the royal family greeting the elderly monarch and kissing his hand. Crown Prince Salman and the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Alsheikh sat next to him.
This was the first time the King appears in public since December 29 when he chaired the cabinet meeting to announce the annual budget. Earlier Tuesday, a group of clerics were reportedly arrested after they gathered outside the royal court to protest. Asim al-Mashaali, one of the protesters, said on Twitter that they were stopped by the security forces and taken into buses. Lawyer Abdulaziz al-Hussan said he went to the police station in Sahafa district where 13 protesters were detained, but the police refused to tell him the reason for the arrests.
The clerics have staged a similar sit-in outside the royal court earlier this month to protest what some of them described as “recent changes in the country” including the King’s decision to appoint 30 women to the advisory Shoura Council.