Release Shaykh Usama Al-Atar immediately.
  • Petitioned Embassy of Canada Diplomatic Quarter Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

This petition was delivered to:

Diplomatic Quarter
Embassy of Canada Diplomatic Quarter Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The government of Saudi Arabia
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
John Baird

Release Shaykh Usama Al-Atar immediately.

    1. Hasanain Khatau
    2. Petition by

      Hasanain Khatau

      Southampton, United Kingdom

November 2011


After being detained in a Saudi Arabian jail for 36 hours, Shaykh Usama Al-Atar was finally released on Monday, October 31. He is currently continuing his pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

The Shaykh, a well known Canadian cleric and University of Alberta post-doctoral fellow, was beaten and detained by religion policy in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, October 30, in Medina.

In just 24 hours, over 4,000 people signed a petition demanding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia release the imam.

This explosive campaign is a great example of how fast and well organized mobilization can make a difference. "I'm sure the Saudi government could not handle such international pressure!", said Hasnain Khatau, the author of the petition.

Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has received various eyewitness statements that well-known Canadian cleric Shaykh Usama Al-Atar [1] was arrested this morning after Fajr (morning) prayers in the Holy City of Madina (approximately 06.30 KSA time).

A silent vigil by about 60 hujjaj (pilgrims) from various countries has just been reportedly dispersed from outside the Central Madina police station where the Shaykh was being held. This dispersal was reportedly the result of advice from the British Embassy to protestors.

The Shaykh was taken away, with reports that he will be charged tomorrow for breaking the arm of a member of the religious police, a claim vehemently denied by the eyewitnesses. The Shaykh was reportedly reciting Ziyarat [2] with a small group of about 10 hujjaj in Jannatul Baqi [3] when guards, and then religious police became involved in trying to silence them. The harassment from the guards and religious police resulted in the group leaving the Baqi and continuing their recitation outside the cemetery.

Another set of religious police continued the harassment, and the group closed their prayer books and left the Baqi going through the Prophet’s Mosque. It was at this time that a member of the religious police called out that the Shaykh was a ‘thief’ which resulted in him being detained by security guards and concerned locals until the police arrived. Whilst being held in a kiosk at the edge of the Prophet’s Mosque complex, the Shaykh was reportedly manhandled.

One eyewitness, Mohammed Hayward who saw the events transpire, said:
“They manhandled him badly, he had blood on him. They forced him to sit under an air conditioning unit, and squashed him until he was blue in the face.”

He added:
“The situation here generally has been very tense. There has been a sense that Saudi [security personnel] are out to target people. I’ve been hearing abuse from them levelled at different groups. It’s very provocative.”

For more information and further eyewitness reports please contact the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 7958522196, or via email at Alternatively, you can call (+44) 2089044222.
Notes to Editors:

[1] Usama Al-Atar is a well known cleric based in Canada, who has lectured in the USA and UK on religious matters. He is a Canadian national married to a Canadian with a 3 year old child; the couple are expecting another child in December.
He is currently a post doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta, Canada, and has several publications in the fields of Diabetes and Cancer research.
Photos of the Shaykh are available.

[2] Ziyarat a religious rite performed by some Muslims, especially but not solely those who follow the Jafari school ofthought to which the Shaykh belongs.


Please help spread the word and if you can spare a few more minutes flood your local newspapers/media houses with this information. Also take some time to send an email to the Saudi Ministry for Foreign Affairs at requesting Shayk's immediate release.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 4,000 signatures

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      Salamun Alaykum everyone!

      Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil Aalameen!

      IHRC has just reported that Shaykh has been released. It is by the blessing of Allah that we got so much support and I'm sure the Saudi government could not handle the international pressure!

      However, as we all know, this is a common issue, and not everyone is as well known as Shaykh... we can only imagine how many Shias are being pestered everyday.

      We need to come up with some strategies, make this issue well known and help each other out. If you have any ideas on how we can do this please email me on

      I suggest the formation of a league (Shia Defence League perhaps?) and we can thereafter come up with a few ideas!

    3. Reached 3,000 signatures
    4. "Canadian Government Says it will take action"

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      Alhamdulillah, we are finally seeing some results. 1010 Radio has just reported that The Canadian government stated it will take action!

      If the Allah (s.w.t), the prophet (p.b.u.h) and his Ahlul Bayt (a.s) are with the Shaykh, who can stand in our way?!

    5. Report by Press TV

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      Press TV has given a brief report of the incident

    6. Reached 2,000 signatures
    7. Message from Ms. Zakira Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      "North American Shia Ithna-asheri Muslim Communities Organization (NASIMCO), of which I am an executive councilor, is actively working with local and federal government officials towards the immediate release of Sheikh Usama Al-Atar. Relevant leaders of our communities in Canada, Council of European jamaats, Africa Federation and World Federation officials are working in conjunction with NASIMCO to strengthen our efforts. Contact with the Canadian Ministry of Foreign affairs, local Members of Parliament and media outlets is being established. Updates on the situation will be released as they become available."

    8. CTV News Report: Eye-witness says, "Usama is completely innocent."

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      This is a well executed report, and a detailed eye-witness report of the events leading to Shayk's arrest.

    9. Reached 1,000 signatures
    10. Why would the Saudi regime arrest Shaykh Al-Atar?

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      I came across this video which tries to speculate as to why the Saudi police over-reacted in this case involving Shaykh Al-Atar. The narrator points out, showing paragraphs from the Shayk's website, that he was outspoken when it came to injustices committed by regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Must watch!

    11. Reached 750 signatures
    12. Help promote this video: Some strong words from Shaykh Usama

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      Please watch this video and share it with your friends. Towards the end, there is an excerpt from one of Shayk's lectures: Very strong words Masha'Allah.

    13. Reached 500 signatures
    14. Update from IHRC: Court hearing tomorrow at 8am

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      IHRC said that the Sheikh has his court hearing tomorrow morning at 8am, and they are looking to find him a Saudi lawyer.

      The best thing to do now is to raise awareness with the media, however, they noted to refrain from aggressive/violent protests outside the Saudi Embassy for example because this could ultimately backfire tomorrow.

      If by tomorrow the Sheikh is not released then we can put more pressure and pursue the case further.

    15. Please send an email to Canadian minister for Foreign Affairs

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      Use this draft to e-mail John Baird (

      Dear Sir

      R.E: Arrest and detention of Shaykh Usama Al-Atar in Saudi Arabia

      I am writing to ask you to demand the immediate release of Shaykh Usama Al-Atar from detention in Saudi Arabia.

      As you know, Shaykh Al-Atar is a well respected Canadian national, who works at the University of Alberta.

      The circumstances of his arrest have been widely reported by eyewitnesses, and the reports clearly indicate that he was harassed by Saudi security personnel, including the so-called religious police, manhandled and taken away to detention on false pretexts.

      I hope you will be making immediate representations to the Saudi authorities for his unconditional release.

      Yours sincerely,
      (Your name)

    16. News report by CBC News

      Hasanain Khatau
      Petition Organizer

      We need more media houses to hear about this. Please take some time to send out emails to as many media houses as you can.

    17. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Philippe Duprey VITRY SUR SEINE, FRANCE
      • almost 3 years ago

      Al Madina est une ville sainte pour 1,5 milliards de musulmans, elle n'appartient pas au whabito-saoudiens pas plus que Al MECCA il faut que cette légitimation d'un pouvoir "fraudeur" au sens du CORAN cesse

    • Renate Haeberle SCHW. HALL, GERMANY
      • almost 3 years ago

      Saudi Arabia - best friend of Western superpowers

    • hassan albaker LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 3 years ago

      to free mr usama al-attar from sauidi gover now

      • almost 3 years ago

      May the Arab spring come your way if your American friend is genuine about democracy. Brutality is on the way out and may Humanity reign supreme.

    • mohasin unia MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
      • almost 3 years ago

      It is really an injustice that a person reciting is being help and arrested for no reason other than violation of freedom and speech.


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