Mohamed al-Nimr: It’s About Qatif Not Iran

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A protester holds up a picture of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a rally at the coastal town of Qatif, against Sheikh Nimr's arrest 8 July 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Stringer)

By: Shahira Saloum

Published Thursday, July 12, 2012

When the issue of Qatif in Saudi Arabia is brought to the table, it immediately brings with it the conflict between the Arab Gulf states and Iran. Some claim that the region is a card in the Islamic Republic’s hand, as it manipulates its “tools” to destabilize the kingdom.

But a closer look at the region and its people quashes all these allegations. In Qatif, marginalized Saudi citizens are yearning for equality and justice. Their demands are part of the calls for reforms throughout the country. It is not true that they are secessionist. This is what Saudi dissident Mohamed al-Nimr told Al-Akhbar. He called on moderates to halt the deterioration of the situation following the arrest of his brother [Shia sheikh] Nimr al-Nimr and on the Saudi authorities to safeguard itself through reforms, rather than blaming Iran for all its troubles.

Saudi dissident Mohamed al-Nimr, brother of prominent religious figure Nimr Baqer al-Nimr who was arrested by Saudi authorities in Qatif a few days ago, told Al-Akhbar it was unlikely that the situation will blow up following the arrest of his brother.

“The grounds are not prepared for such an eruption,” he said, indicating that the side responsible for the latest incitement was the extremist Wahhabi current.

He mentioned that the sheikh’s health is not reassuring and that “he should be transferred to the Security Forces Hospital in Riyadh, where they have detention wings. But we have not been able to contact him or receive information on his situation.”

He spoke about the incitement surrounding the arrest in Qatif. Nimr claimed that the extremist wing was the side that sparked the news about his brother a few days before the arrest took place.

Nimr explained that there are tens of thousands of Salafi detainees in prisons. They were saying, “How could you allow this rafidhi [“rejectionist”/Shia] to remain free and throw us into prison.” Sheikh Nimr had been under surveillance by the authorities for two years and was being closely monitored.

He believes that the security escalation in the eastern region a few days ago was due to the reckless behavior of the authorities. The arrest was meant to lead to clash. “We had hoped the authorities would act wisely and calmly.”

Nonetheless, Sheikh Nimr had raised the level of his discourse recently. But his brother said that his words were within the framework of freedom of opinion and he never called for any action against the authorities.

As for the accusations against his brother, saying he called for separation from Saudi Arabia and joining Bahrain, Nimr maintains that Sheikh Nimr never called for secession. His words were misrepresented and the rumors were false.

“We are demanding our rights. If you do not want to give them to us, let us secede,” the sheikh had said. His brother held that the issue was conditional. It was not based on a practical program or actual intent. Rather, it was in the framework of a reaction to the events in Medina [the clash between the police and Shia pilgrims during the Hajj], which created tensions in Qatif.

Concerning the recent reports about sleeper cells that Iran intends to activate, Nimr maintains that Arab countries always use Iran as a scapegoat so they can avoid responsibility for their own problems.

“There are real problems inside Saudi Arabia, questions of rights, rampant corruption, and calls for reform. These issues should be solved first,” he said.

Nimr added that “Iran aspires to be a regional power. Therefore Saudi Arabia should safeguard its interior through reforms, and not to pin its troubles on the outside.”

At the same time, he admits that there is sympathy with Iran in the eastern region. It is not a secret that it is confessional. Also, Iran’s achievements as a resistance front attracts people. Saudi Arabia should immunize itself against outside interference through reforms.

Tensions escalated in Qatif and Ihsaa following the arrest of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Thousands of people protested, calling for the overthrow of the regime and the release of the sheikh. Two people were killed and dozens were injured.

Nimr said it is unlikely that the situation will continue to deteriorate. He said “moderate positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry should address the case politically, not as a security issue.”

As for the proliferation of weapons in the region that could lead to an eruption, Nimr held that weapons are available throughout the kingdom. But the grounds are not set for an [armed] escalation, because most Shia intellectuals reject armed action and insist on peaceful struggle. Extremists are a minority and their armed action is merely rhetorical, he said.

He mentions several other reasons for the unlikelihood of an escalation. “Things cannot erupt militarily, since the balance of power is very unfavorable, in the first place. Also, the culture of violent action is nonexistent,” Nimr said.

But at the same time, he agrees that the levels of popular unrest and sectarian tensions are very high, in addition to the events in Bahrain.

Family ties exist between the two sides and every family in Bahrain has relatives in the eastern region of Saudi. The events in Bahrain have an inevitable impact. This was evident recently, when protesters [in Bahrain] named an action after Sheikh Nimr.

Nimr did not separate the Qatif question from the kingdom’s other issues. He saw that the conditions for an escalation are not unique to the eastern region.

All the districts are facing economic, social, or political issues that could lead to an eruption. This is in addition to the problems of the princes who feel marginalized due to the inflation of the royal family.

“Princess Sara Bint Talal’s requesting asylum in Britain and the scandals exposed by ‘Mujtahid’ (@mujtahidd), a member of the royal family, on Twitter indicate the resentment and confusion within,” he claimed.

Elaborating on the issue, Nimr said that “the appointment of Prince Salman as crown prince irked many of his brothers.”

The Saudi dissident reaffirms the demands of the people of Qatif, saying they are among the Saudi citizens who are active within the reform current. Although their demands are related to a sect, they fall within the calls for reforms nationally.

Ending sectarian discrimination falls within the framework of reforms and equality. “Not a single Shia was ever appointed, even for one hour, in the government, since the establishment of the kingdom. In addition, Shia are forbidden from senior positions. As for the distribution of wealth, this is a problem on the national level.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Can anyone please tell me why terrorists are either wahhabis or salafis?

The House of Saudi has been a puppet of the US for a long time. KSA never participated in the Arab/Israeli wars, and it is a friend of Israel. As time goes on, this despotic monorchy will be washed down the toillet, and honorable people od Saudi Arabia will take charge of the nation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qirtx0asRHs

Qatifi oppositionist, Ali Al-Ahmed exposed by Hafidh al-Mirazi, for inciting the Zionist crowd and this charlatan wrote an article attacking Sunni Arabs by bringing up the treacheries of the Egyptian, Saudi and Jordanian regimes over the years forgetting the tens of thousands of Sunnis who opposed and confronted the treachery of these regimes in contrast to the deafenining silence from Amal, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime towards their allies who rode to power on American tanks.

Hilarious, sectarian Umar. Its no suprise that you are using an anti-Iranian bias House of Thani and House of Saud propaganda machine to cite "evidence" about the proxy regional war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. You already knew that your beloved regime is crumbling because of "riding too much American tanks"? Moreover, its pathetically funny to see how you are trying to portray Iran as an ally of United States while in reality its obviously the Al Saud regime is the greatest Muslim ally of the White Man. I guess if the Al-Jazeera says the Shias has converted to Judaism I can guarantee you will believe in that. So sorry, BAD video to cite evidence.

By the way, are you still crying? Too bad for you. Al Maut li Al-Saud!!!

Why doesn't Al-Ahmed call for opening a CBN bureau in Qatif, Iran or Iraq? Why does the Qatifi, Hasan as-Saffar call for liberalism in Saudi, but not in Iraq or Iran? Of course, Al-Ahmed's cavorting with the Zionists cannot be compared to treacheries of the Saudi regime, but again, it wasn't the Shi'ite sectarians, who confronted and opposed the treachery of Aal-Su'ood, but their fellow Najdis and Wahabis as evident by the tens of thousands of them in Saudi dungeons. Are you also going to accuse them of being stooges for the Saudis? And I didn't say that Iran was the greatest ally of the US, but it and it's cronies allied with them in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there was total silence from the Iran and Hezbollah towards this.

I am sectarian but my sectarianism didn't prevent me from condemning the treachery of Aal-Su'ood and how the hell can you compell me with the treachery of Aal-Su'ood when I condemn them and the ones who confronted their treachery the most, were members of their own region and sect while you don't compel the Iranian regime, Amal and Hezbollah with the treacheries of their allies who rode to power on American tanks in Afghanistan and Iraq with no takhween or condemnation from them, proving their brazen hypocrisy and double standards beyond a shadow of a doubt. And you sidestep the Qatifi hypocrite, Ali Al-Ahmed, who has been busy cavorting with the Zionist Neocons and he was called out on this by Hafidh al-Mirazi, of all people, and Al-Jazeera's Qatari backing has nothing to do with this, and I wonder what farcical excuse you will come up with to defend Al-Ahmed's appearance on Pat Robertson's channel calling for him to open an office in Saudi.

Hell of course I can!!! You don't trust all those anti-Syrian opposition who are also anti-Syrian regime at the same time? Thats okay, because we don't trust in you at all. Why should we believe in your words if you can't believe in us in the first place? You really think you are condemning Al Saud? Nope, I don't believe IN A SINGLE WORD from you. You really think you are anti-Khalifa? Nope I guess not. If you don't really believe us, then stop expecting us to trust in you, damn sectarian Umar.

Your response proves your childishness and the brazen insincerity of the Shi'ite sectarians and the pro-Assad nutters when they talk about the treachery of the Saudi regime when they loved the American tanks which brought their allies to power in Afghanistan and Iraq with the total and deafening silence from Iran, Amal and Hezbollah in contrast to the thousands of Najdis and "Wahabis" who opposed and confronted the treachery of the Al-Su'ood since they began collaborating with the British in the time of King Abdul-Aziz till our time and this is the difference between the two groups and it is telling that all of you "mumanists" on this website have slithered away when confronted with this brazen hypocrisy. This isn't "blaming", but pointing out the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime and Hezbollah, and here is another example of their hypocrisy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D58mt9_qZ4

A shabeeh praising the Emir of Kuwait, who is an American stooge just as much as Hamad or the Saudi king, in a fundraiser for Bashar by Shi'ite MP's there proving their insincerity in their takhween. Yes, Al-Mawt li-Aal-Su'ood but is it also accompanied by "yahya Bashar wa Hafez al-Assad" as the Qatifis who support the Assadi regime and Iran's crackdown on the anti-regime protestsin Iran? And As'ad Abu Khalil pretends that only the Syrian uprising is sectarian?!

" And As'ad Abu Khalil pretends that only the Syrian uprising is sectarian?!"

Are you blind or what? He has repeatedly criticize the al-Wefaq in Bahrain for their sectarian ideology and its compromising with the House of Khalifa and also the Hezbollah, Iraq and Iran Shiite sectarian regimes, and for that the pro-regime supporters was accusing him for being an Western imperialist supporter.

Oh wait, I get it. Asad AbuKhalil had his "sectarian background". Oh, I'm sorry.

And you are still crying because the Al Saud regime is shaking and crumbling? Yup, I'm childish. So, watch and learn, Umar. When the Al Saud regime is fall, the next will be the Ayatollah's in Iran.

Al Mawt li Al Saud!!!

Are you Shi'ite sectarians blind or what? Why do you make takhween for sectarian purposes, when Iran, Amal and Hezbollah were totally silent on their allies who rode to power on American tanks while tens of thousands of Sunnis confronted the Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi regimes for their treachery for decades? And yes, Abu Khalil is a Shi'ite sectarian and I don't give a damn if he criticised the Iraqi Shi'ites who collaborated with the Americans as if he was the only person in the Arab world to call out his people for collaborating with the external enemy. Proofs of his sectarianism is not once mentioning Hezbollah's hypocritical takhween of the Syrian uprising from the beginning while it was totally silent on its Afghan and Iraqi allies who rode to power on America tanks, even hosting "thuwar Nato" like Chalabi and Ja'fari, his silence on the Bahrani and Qatifi oppositionists who were the biggest supporters of Western intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, not comparing Burhan Ghalyun to Nabeel Rajab who is a frontman for Isa al-Qasim and Hadi al-Modaressi, who will be the real powerbreakers if Aal-Khalifa are toppled, and other issues which prove his sectarianism.

Wow. If the critics call him a Zionist agent then you will really believe he's a Jew. Likewise if he supports the Saudi and Bahraini revolt, then he must be automatically a Shia sectarian. No need to mock on me, sectarian Umar. I know you loveeeee your master Al Saud so much until you willing to die for them. So keep on calling me childish.

You criticize your own master? NOPE, I don't believe a single word from you. AL MAUT LI AL SAUD!!! Hahahahaha!!!

"Nimr explained that there are tens of thousands of Salafi detainees in prisons. They were saying, “How could you allow this rafidhi [“rejectionist”/Shia] to remain free and throw us into prison.”

Most of these detainees are in Saudi dungeons because they oppose the treachery of the Saudi government and yet the hypocritical Shi'ite sectarians make takwheen of all of the Salafis, while they were totally silent on their allies in Afghanistan and Iraq who rode to power on American tanks and tooks billions from them and it wasn't just Iran's proxies who were in on this, but the Iranian regime itself which was on the ground with the "Great Satan":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_uprising_in_Herat

and the Iranian regime, Amal and Hezbollah didn't utter a single word of takhween towards this collaboration and and where is the liar As'ad Abu Khalil who makes takhween of all of the Saudi "Wahabis" and Salafis when dozens of their shuyookh and thousands of their followers opposed and confronted the treachery of the Saudi government and their ulama as-salateen there since Gulf War I and II, and even before this in the time of King Abdul-Aziz. Put up or shut up and I wonder whether Al-Akhbar will have articles about the Salafi shuyookh imprisoned by the Saudi regime.

"At the same time, he admits that there is sympathy with Iran in the eastern region. It is not a secret that it is confessional. Also, Iran’s achievements as a resistance front attracts people. Saudi Arabia should immunize itself against outside interference through reforms."

What a joke and the Khaleeji Shi'ites were the biggest supporters of the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and the Qatifi opposition leader, Ali al-Ahmed is close to the Neocons, even appearing on Pat Robertson's channel, CBN, calling on him to open an office in Saudi:

http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/336186.aspx

Why doesn't he call for this in Iran or Iraq? Or the other Qatifi hypocrite, Hasan as-Saffar, who calls for liberalism in Saudi, why doesn't he call for this in Iraq or Iran? Also, I don't believe Nimr an-Nimr's supposed condemnation of Bashar for a second, as all of his fellow Shi'ites are supporting Bashar, and they like Hasan as-Saffar had no problem being hosted by Hafez al-Assad when they were in exile. Is As'ad Abu Khalil and his fellow travellers going to apply the same standards of "mumana'a"?

“We are demanding our rights. If you do not want to give them to us, let us secede,”

Fair enough and let Ahwaz, Baluchistan and Kurdistan secede too?

Face it, Umar, you still loves the KSA regime. Keep on blaming the Iranians and the Hezbollah, while you watch the Al Saud regime gets crumbling and dying. May Allah grant victory for the oppressed Saudis, and wish them major victory against the Wahhabi state.

Al Mawt li Al-Saud!!!

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