Saudi police fire on Qatif protesters

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, July 27, 2012

Saudi security forces opened fire on protesters in the tense Qatif district of the Eastern Province on Friday, wounding several as hundreds marched to demand political reform and the release of detainees, witnesses said.

Live rounds fired by anti-riot police wounded a number of protesters who took to the streets in the early hours, the witnesses said, without specifying a figure.

The interior ministry said security forces dealt with "rioters who burned tires" in parts of Qatif, arresting several people, including Mohammed al-Shakhuri, whose name figures on a list of 23 wanted people.

"There were no casualties," the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Witnesses said that Shakhuri had been taken to the military hospital in nearby Dhahran with bullet wounds to his back and neck.

The demonstrators carried posters of detainees, including prominent cleric Nimr al-Nimr who was violently arrested earlier this month, witnesses said.

In recent days, confrontations have intensified between police and protesters from the kingdom's marginalized Shia minority – estimated at around two million and mostly concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province.

Two protesters were killed earlier this month, triggering protests at government buildings in Qatif.

The district witnessed a spate of protests after an outbreak of violence between Shia pilgrims and religious police in the Muslim holy city of Medina in February last year.

The protests escalated when the kingdom led a force of Gulf troops into neighboring Bahrain the following month to help crush a pro-democracy uprising against the hardline Sunni monarchy.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

The Saudis may manage to achieve in Qatif what Assad achieved in Syria when he used violence against peaceful protest, the radicalization of the protestors, and increased likelihood of them turning to violence in expressing their plea for civil and human rights for minorities in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis loudly complain that Tehran is meddling in their northeastern province, and yet at every turn, the royal government has refused to grant individual rights and civil guarantees to The Shia in Saudi Arabia, much less allow them normal representation in civil offices, or political participation and expression.

It is little wonder these villagers resent the heavy hand of the Saudi Mukhabarat and police agencies who scorn them openly and humiliate the minority population daily.

Whatever truth may be behind the Saudi contention that the hand of Iran is behind the growing Qatif protest movement, they continue to make matters worse by dealing with peaceful protest with deadly violence. As in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Lybia, andd Bahrain, etc., such tactics only gain you new and committed enemies.

sectarian nonsense

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