Friday, March 11, 2011

Day of Rage Hits Saudi Arabia With a Whimper

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets today against the Saudi regime. Protests failed to materialize in Riyadh.
Hundreds of protesters Friday took to the streets in the eastern Saudi Arabian cities of al-Hofuf and Awamiya, a day after protests in the same region.

About 500 protesters, mainly Shiite Muslims who make up a large part of the population of the region, demonstrated in the oil-rich eastern province. Al-Hofuf sits on the east flank of the country's major oil field Ghawar.

The protesters called for the release of prisoners held without charges, according to Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, president of Human Rights First Society. There was no gunfire or clashes with police in the area, Mr. al-Mugaiteeb said. At least 10 people were arrested, witnesses said.

In the late afternoon, at least 500 protesters staged demonstrations in the town of Awamiya, near the Saudi Shia centre of Qatif on the Gulf coast, witnesses said.

Eastern province is the home of vast reserves of Saudi oil, while a majority of Saudi Shiites live there. The Shiites have complained of job discrimination but the Saudi government denies it and says all citizens are treated equally.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, Friday prayers ended calmly, as none of the protests activists had called for materialized by mid-afternoon local-time.

Dozens of police cars waited quietly in the area where activists had called for the demonstrations after Muslim prayers. No protesters could be seen in the area.
The regime may have dodged a bullet for the moment, but this doesn't mean that the pressure's off them entirely as many see the regime as corrupt and in need of reform.

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