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published on 11/03/2011

The political turbulence spreads to Saudi Arabia

Friday, the 11th of March, had been planned as the ‘Day of Rage’ by the Saudis. This in itself is an inkling for the upheavel against Monarch Government. Saudi Arabia does not have a history of protests. In fact, it hardly has mass movements or political parties.

Friday, the 11th of March, had been planned as the ‘Day of Rage’ by the Saudis.

This in itself is an inkling for the upheavel against Monarch Government. Saudi Arabia does not have a history of protests. In fact, it hardly has mass movements or political parties.

The largest country in the Middle East further aggravates the possibility of massive outbreak of revolts, already witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

The citizens, boldly imitating their counter parts, want to hold the Saudi Arabia’s royal family accountable. The protestors are demanding shift to constitutional monarchy and general elections. These petitions have been drafted by the intellectuals, moderate Islamists and students.

The Saudi Arabian government did all it could. Hundreds of police forces have been already deployed in Riyadh near the Mosque. Check points have been set and roads have been blocked.

Khalid al-Dakhil, a well known Saudi political activist states that this country can not avoid the ramifications of the ongoing protests. Though, he states that the current protests might not become as violent as those in Tunisia or Egypt, but it does not signify that political changes are not wanted.

Though, the Royal family does not discern these democracy hungry activists as any kind of threat. In a recent meeting with the top notch Saudi Arabian officials, the Interior Minister Prince Nayef has stated that its all about keeping the important conservative Islamic leaders content.

Starting from blocking websites to detaining activists, government is using its power. According to the sources, more than 30,000 citizens had joined the protest group in Facebook.

Al-Ahsa, the eastern Saudi Arabian city is the first to witness the streets being occupied by protestors- a phenomenon which has become conventional in Middle East.

What concerns the international domain is the effect of Saudi Arabian protest on the oil prices. With Libya already producing treacherous affects and ruining the stock exchanges, Saudi Arabia was the only compensating hope in the Middle East.

General Mansor al-Turki, spokesperson from the Interim government has announced that the protestors are under control and the police forces are not using excessive firing.

Though, rallies in Qatif, witnessed police firings. This city, due to its location in the Eastern region which is known for oil reservoirs, holds prominence for the country.

500 Shiite Muslims operating the protest on Friday demand the release of prisoners who have been illegaly kept behind the bars.

These respective prisoners are Shia Muslims who have been jailed for more than 14 years.

The location of Qatif is also important because it is near to Bahrain, the  kindgom with majority of Shia muslims. Since mid february, even Bahrain has been witnessing anti-government protests.

On the other hand, the 87-year-old Monarch, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz returned to Riyadh after three months and even announced $36 billion benefit packages to the citizens.

As of now, the benefits do not benefit the government.

Though, few observes believe that the strength of Abdullah is more than what Mubarak or Ben Ali had during their times. No doubt, few deputies abhor him but there are several members who do support him.

Surprisingly, the role of women protestors in the ongoing demands for transparent monarchy, is quite impressive. The Interior Ministry has noticed dozens of black abayas clad Saudi Arabian women protest outside its office. As they demanded the release of their husbands and brothers who have been jailed, these women had to suffer physical bashing by the security guards.

Restrictions of the Saudi women, like they cannot drive a car or even travel abroad, reveals the strict and baseless foundation of the government.

Mohammad al-Hodaif, the pioneer in Saudi Arabian human rights who had also been jailed for four years demands that such middle aged monarchy would not serve any purpose.

The transition in power might seem mandatory but ministry officials in the governemt declare that such protests would just go against the teachings in Quran and would yield nothing concrete.

 

 

+ Mohammad al-Hodaif + Al-Ahsa + Interior Minister Prince Nayef
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