Saudi prince goes on hunger strike over royal purge

Monitoring Desk

RIYADH: Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, the half-brother of Saudi’s King Salman, has gone on a hunger strike since his three sons, including Crown Prince al Waleed bin Talal, who is the richest man in Saudi Arabia, were arrested in an “anti-corruption” probe on Nov. 4 in the kingdom.

He stopped eating on Nov. 10, lost 10 kilograms since then, and is being treated at the King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh, according to reports.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had arrested hundreds of top figures such as princes, including Prince al Waleed bin Talal, businessmen and former ministers as part of the operation.

Also known as the Red Prince, 86-year-old Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz led the pro-reform Free Princes Mo-vement and campaigned for a constitutional monarchy in 1958, which consisted of a c-onstitution involving the pr-ogress regarding human righ-ts. He also tried to form a committee of advisors including elected members, but his attempts were deemed inappropriate by the king and religious leaders.

He was faced with a fatwa (religious edict) stating that his constitution violated sharia laws.

His passport was annulled in 1961, and he moved to Egypt introducing himself as a socialist. Being influenced by former Egyptian Prime Minister Gamal Abdel Nasser, Talal criticized the royal administration and continued his efforts for innovation.

Recently, the Saudi government demanded $6 billion from the prince for his release. The 62-year-old crown prince is known as the 57th richest person of the world, with his estimated net worth of $18.7 billion.