Saudi security forces order to stop unlawful protest,
The Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry warned that it would
crack down hard on protesters who continue to take their grievances to the
Saudi security forces will be "authorized to take all and
any measures against anyone who tries to break the law and cause
disorder," the ministry said, according to the country's “state-run news” agency.
The government cited how some were trying "to get
around the systems" and "achieve illegitimate goals.
The Interior Ministry spokesman told the London Times, that
Kingdom law prevents all kinds of demonstrations, protests, strikes and even a
call for them because they're against Sharia law and Saudi values and
traditions.(Which mean in layman term Know Democracy)
In response, Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, president of the Human
Rights First Society, told the London Times that the Interior Ministry is
"not at all sensitive" to the massive unrest sweeping the Arab world.
"I'm hoping that the Ministry of the Interior and the
government of Saudi Arabia will not choose to take the security solution road
because that was already tested in other Arab countries and, by God, it did not
work," said al-Mugaiteeb, who's in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government has downplayed this Friday's protests
in the Eastern Province, saying the people weren't calling for a regime change.
"The protests that took place in the Eastern Province
were small and were not political in nature," a Saudi government official
told the London Times. "The protesters weren't calling for regime change,
they were asking for more jobs and calling for release of prisoners they feel
were imprisoned unjustly."
The official, who asked not to be named because he was not
authorized to speak to the media, said Friday's protest was not worrisome.
"We don't feel they will spread throughout the kingdom or become bigger in
nature," he said.
Demonstrators who protested in Eastern Province were
demanding the releases of Shiite prisoners they feel are being held without
An outspoken Shiite prayer leader who demonstrators say was
arrested more than a week ago was a focal point of the "day of rage"
protest, said Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, president of the Human Rights First
Sheikh Tawfeeq Al-Amer was arrested Sunday after he gave a
sermon two days earlier, on February 25, stating that Saudi Arabia should
become a constitutional monarchy, human rights activists said.
Friday's protest comes on the heels of two similar
demonstrations held in the province Thursday, al-Mugaiteeb said, when about 200
protesters in the city of Qatif and 100 protesters in the city of Awamiyya
called for the release of Shiite prisoners.
Al-Mugaiteeb said authorities arrested 22 people who
participated in Thursday's protest in Qatif.
"We deplore this action by the Saudi security
forces," he said.
Another protest took place in Riyadh after Friday prayer,
according to two Saudi activists. The sources asked not to be identified
because of concerns for their safety.
According to the activists, as many as 40 anti-government
demonstrators gathered outside Al-Rajhi Mosque for a short protest. At least
one man involved in organizing the protest was arrested by Saudi police, the
The activists said the protesters attracted a crowd of
worshipers leaving the mosque. Some of the protesters carried signs showing a
map of Saudi Arabia that did not contain the words "Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia," a clear affront to the Saudi royal family.
The government official told the London Time that he was not
aware of any protests or arrests in Riyadh.
When asked about the various rights groups in the kingdoms
who have been calling for the creation of a constitutional monarchy over the
course of the past 2 weeks, the government official on Saturday stated,
"Yes, there are groups here asking for more rights, calling for
constitutional reforms, and that is their right to do so. King Abdullah has
always encouraged a national dialogue and continues to do so."
The official insisted that the king "is doing all he
can to improve things for Saudis."
"But in Saudi Arabia -- it's not like other countries
-- we don't have or allow protests here. If people have a grievance, they can
go and address it with the governors of their provinces or they can go to the
Royal Court and address grievances directly there," the official said.
Saudi Arabia has cracked down on protests in the past.
Shiites are a minority in Saudi Arabia. They live primarily
in the Eastern Province, where many major oil companies operate.
The protests come as sectarian violence between Shiites and
Sunnis flares in neighbouring Bahrain.
London Times Analysts believe protests in Bahrain could
spill over into Saudi Arabia's oil fields, located mostly in Shiite provinces.
After three months abroad for medical treatment, Saudi King
Abdullah returned home late last month to a Middle East shaken by unrest, and
announced a series of sweeping measures aimed at relieving economic hardship
and meeting with Bahrain's beleaguered monarch.
The Saudi government released three Shiite political
prisoners ahead of the King's return.