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Daily News Analysis

Protests rock Saudi Arabia

Crescent International

The Saudi regime brands protests against its oppressive rule "terrorism." Shaykh Nimr al-Nimr has been sentenced to death for demanding reforms. Such barbaric sentences have failed to cow the people down. Protests have been held in the Eastern Province coupled with women defying the ban on driving cars.


Monday October 27, 2014, 22:07 DST

After fomenting violent social collapse and political turnover in almost every single Muslim country, it is perhaps fitting that Saudi Arabia is facing mass protests that illustrate how tenuous the Kingdom’s “stability” is. King Abdullah has been promising “moderate reforms” for years while preserving the repressive policies of the state, and now groups and communities are demanding that he live up to his word.

On Friday October 24, massive protests broke out over the death sentence that Saudi Arabia slapped on activists from within the Shi‘i community dwelling inside its borders.

More than one hundred protestors took to the streets in eastern Saudi Arabia in order to protest the verdict against Shaykh Nimr al-Nimr and seven others who had been calling for greater political and social freedoms for its minorities, including the Shi‘i community.

Protests have steadily been gathering steam. On Tuesday, October 21, a Saudi court sentenced to death two people ‘as a deterrent to others’ in connection with protests that began in Saudi Arabia three years ago.

The Peninsular Qatar cited a report from the Awamiya, the Saudi government’s media mouthpiece, that the detainees “were tried on charges including ‘participating in marches and rallies that caused riots’. [An activist from the community] said those sentenced to death were teenagers at the time of their arrest, and are among a total of eight who have received the death sentence.” The activist spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, saying: “the people here are very angry but they are also afraid,” and “such measures do not contribute to the restoration of peace and calm in the region.” The eastern region of Saudi Arabia is where the majority of the Kingdom’s oil reserves are located, which could lead to crippling consequences to Saudi economy.

In addition to the eastern region of the kingdom, women are also rising up to protest their sub-human status under Saudi law. The October 26 women’s driving group, an online group of Saudi women championing the right to drive, posted Instagram photos of them driving in the streets of Saudi Arabia.

The UK-based newspaper The Guardian reported (October 26) on the protest:

“A video clip of a protest by May al-Sawyan, a 32-year-old economics researcher and mother of two, was uploaded on the YouTube channel of the October 26 driving for women group, along with several other videos of women purportedly driving in defiance of the ban in Riyadh, al-Ahsa and Jeddah. It was not possible to verify when they were filmed. Another video to feature on YouTube was the spoof No Woman, No Drive.”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia showed what it does best, issuing a harsh warning to women drivers for exercising their right to take the wheel. “Female drivers in Saudi Arabia will be dealt with strictly,” declared a statement released by the Interior Ministry for Saudi Arabia. “The ministry will apply regulations firmly against those who violate the country’s laws.”


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