In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Thousands rally after death of protester in Saudi Arabia

Posted by seumasach on July 12, 2012


11th July, 2012

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Demonstrators have spilled on to the streets of the eastern Saudi city of Qatif, angered by the death of a man during the latest bout of protests in the country.

Mohamed al-Felfel was one of two men shot dead on July after protests broke out following the arrest of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Activists say the two men were killed by police snipers stationed on rooftops – an allegation the Saudi Interior Ministry denies.

Videos posted online showed avenues filled with rows of chanting mourners. Other videos showed youths throwing incendiary devices at what appeared to be a police car, and rocks at a government building.

Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province is home to a Shiite population that has long complained of discrimination by the Sunni ruling family – yet another claim the government dismisses as groundless.

Shiite community leaders have appealed for calm, urging people to avoid involvement in situations that could get out of hand and lead to bloodshed. They also appealed to security forces to exercise restraint and patience, which will help the community get through a “dangerous and critical period.”

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has largely escaped the Arab Spring that forced leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen out of power. But in neighboring Bahrain, similar protests have been going on for months, with Shiite majorities demanding political reforms from the ruling Sunni Al Khalifa family.

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