Saudi sentences Qatif protesters to prison, 300 lashes

Published Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Saudi court has sentenced three citizens to two years in prison and 300 lashes for “rioting” after they participated in protests in the country's restive Qatif district this year.

The accused denied any connection with the Qatif protest movement to the court, a judicial source told the Saudi daily Al-Yawm in a report published Wednesday.

Protesters in the kingdom's Eastern province have been protesting for reforms and an end to discrimination. The spate of demonstrations were triggered by an outbreak of violence between Shia pilgrims and religious police in the Muslim holy city of Medina in February 20121.

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

The charges against the accused protesters include participating in 'demagogic' gatherings, blocking traffic in some neighborhoods, damage to private and public property, the possession of illegal fire arms, and a sporadic firing of guns on citizens and security forces.

An Interior Ministry spokesman has claimed that some of the protesters had set cars on fire.

Saudi authorities announced last month that a security officer had been killed, and another wounded amid an armed ambush led by “rioters” driving motorbikes. Security forces targeted were conducting periodic patrols.

(UPI, Al-Akhbar)

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