Saudi police open fire on demonstrators – Photos


Saudi police opened fire Thursday to disperse a protest in the mainly Shiite east, leaving at least one man injured, as the government struggled to prevent a wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world from reaching the kingdom.

The rare violence raised concern about a crackdown ahead of more planned protests after Friday prayers in different cities throughout the oil-rich kingdom. The pro-Western monarchy is concerned protests could open footholds for Shiite powerhouse Iran and has accused foreigners of stoking the protests, which are officially forbidden.

Despite the ban and a warning that security forces will act against them, protesters demanding the release of political prisoners took to the streets for a second day in the eastern city of Qatif. Several hundred protesters, some wearing face masks to avoid being identified, marched after dark asking for “Freedom for prisoners.”

Police, who were lined up opposite the protesters, fired percussion bombs, followed by gunfire, causing the crowd to scatter, a witness said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation.

The witness said at least one protester was injured and lifted by others to a car for treatment. It was not clear how the protester was injured.

Scores of protesters in Qatif had also marched in the city streets Wednesday night.

Mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia has struggled to stay ahead of the unrest that has led to the ouster of the Egyptian and Tunisian leaders in recent months.

Last month, the ultra-conservative government announced an unprecedented economic package worth an estimated $36 billion that will give Saudis interest-free home loans, unemployment assistance and debt forgiveness. It also has reiterated that demonstrations are forbidden in the kingdom because they contradict Islamic laws and society’s values and said security forces were authorized to act against anyone violating the ban.

So far the demonstrations have been small and concentrated in the east among Shiites demanding the release of detainees. But activists have been emboldened by other uprisings have set up Facebook groups calling for protests in the capital, Riyadh, on Friday to demand democratic reforms. One such group garnered more than 30,000 supporters.

The spread of calls for protests, particularly outside the generally tense eastern Saudi Arabia, home to the country’s Shiite minority, has prompted government officials to issue strong warnings that it will act against activists taking to the streets.

Amnesty International called on Saudi authorities to reverse the ban on peaceful protests in the kingdom.

Philip Luther, a spokesman for the international rights group, said authorities should address the need for major human rights reforms and heed the growing calls for change instead of trying to intimidate protesters.

“Reports that the Saudi authorities plan to deploy troops to police upcoming demonstrations are very worrying,” he said.

The Interior Ministry has banned demonstrations, saying they contradict Islamic laws and society’s values and adding that some people have tried to go around the law to “achieve illegitimate aims.”

“Reform cannot be achieved through protests … The best way to achieve demands is through national dialogue,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saudi al-Faisal said Wednesday.

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6 Responses

  1. TheAZCowBoy says:

    Ahhhh, those w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l Saudi’s (another one of AmeriKKKa’s repressive, low life, governments that murders and maims (Include Israel in this equation) people along its borders. Let’s hope that when Iran’s al-Shahab III IRBM’s take out the Saudi oil fields there will still be reason for AmeriKKKa to love them!

  2. The shaddow government under elite bankers, industrialist and politicians rules in the U.S. The IRS is a collection agency for international finance. They hide behind a corporation, which is their vehicle to commit fraud. They control the masses by keeping them in debt and ignorance, because they control the news media and the education system. They stay in power through the central bank and the military. Freedom is the right to do that which the law allows. If the elite are in power, than they make the laws. Right is might! The people are living under corporate feudalism. The people in power hold no allegence to any one country. They are International or Globalist. They are not concerned with right or wrong and business ethics. They are concerned with profit or loss. Make no mistake! If you think that they have the public interest in mind, you are sadly mistaken. When the U.S. Congress passed NAFTA and GATT that was the beginning of the deindustrialization of America and the systematical elimination of the middle class. America is on the decline. It’s is not competition among monopoly capitalist, but is competition among the working class. While we become poorer, they laugh all the way to the bank. Wake-up America, your days are numbered. Those in power have been administering a series of economic shocks that have crippled the economy. The final death stroke is when they deregulated the banks. You are just seeing the tip of the iceburg. Wait until hyper-inflation sets in and gasoline, diescel, and heating oil cost $10.00 a gallon. Still yet wait until food cost esculate until a loaf of bread cost $10.00 a loaf and hamburger $10.00 a pound. The question is how much can you take before you revolt against those in power?

  3. Maccy says:

    This offers an interesting perspective or view on the now firmly established social media site facebook, as to who is serving whose best interests,. more importantly facebook and it”s peers presents itself as democracy in the making, as the “face of the people” and what they want, a useful tool for the manipulator, remember though a catalyst for violence is the perfect excuse for outside agenda, and violence is “”their”” puppet….

    This a link to the guardian monday, 14th jan 2008, Time has certainly revealed it as a tool for social direction ..
    decide for yourselves..
    “”excerpt”” ….

    The US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes spying easier. “We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries,” defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003. “We need to make the leap into the information age, which is the critical foundation of our transformation efforts.” In-Q-Tel’s first chairman was Gilman Louie, who served on the board of the NVCA with Breyer. Another key figure in the In-Q-Tel team is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence, and – with Breyer – board member of BBN Technologies. When she left the US department of defence, Senator Chuck Robb paid her the following tribute: “She brought the technology and operational military communities together to design detailed plans to sustain US dominance on the battlefield into the next century.”

    Evil dominance never skips a beat…….

  4. Maccy says:

    My question is how much of the middle-east uprisings we see happening are actually fueled by outside interests on a scale of 1-10…and how much rallying by questionable social media is supported by those that have acquired financial holdings, privacy policies etc…just a short search reveals the “BIG MONEY” interests in spying on the people on these social network sites Facebook and Twitter, these example links refer to britain
    My observation is that they watch us closely and “”intervene only when it does not aid their agenda at any given time” people need to be more wary in that igniting a given situation that leads to violence, will only help implement the strategies of the powers that be, whether domestic or foreign. If that were not so, rallying of any kind, by any means, would be stamped out the very moment it is spotted, whatever the source.

  5. joop says:

    NO democracy in Saudi-Arabia- the dictator rules and is supported by the Obama administration. The common people are made mute.

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