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Gathering to Protest: Videos from Saudi Arabia

[Anti-riot police standoff with protesters. Image from Rasid.com] [Anti-riot police standoff with protesters. Image from Rasid.com]

The $35 billion question for the last month has been whether the recent wave of protests that erupted across the Arab world, from its far west in Morocco to US-occupied Iraq in the east, will reach the Saudi Kingdom. Today, Friday March 4, 2011, witnessed two small protests, one in the capital city Riyadh, the other in the al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province. These are not the first signs of protest in Saudi Arabia since  the Egypt ian revolution succeeded in ousting Mubarak. There have been several other small protests at government buildings in different Saudi cities, all of which demanded an end to corruption, reforming labor laws, creating jobs, and releasing political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.  However, unlike these, today’s protests--as well as the one in Qatif last night--have not been so silent.  In the East, protesters’ demands largely centered around the release of political prisoners, and add to that an end to corruption and the squandering of public money in the capital.

The small, short protest in Riyadh took place after Friday prayers in front of the al-Rajhi Mosque. As many as 40-50 anti-government protesters were heard chanting “silmiyyeh, silmiyyeh” [peaceful, peaceful], as they condemned the riches that the Al Saud have been accumulating and demanded the release of political prisoners.

Soon after the demonstration started at al-Rajhi Mosque, police arrested at least one man involved with organizing the protest, Al Wad'ani. From the below video, it seems that some of those who were praying assisted the police in making the arrest:

In Hofuf, in the Eastern Province’s Al Ahsa region, protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers demanding the release of reformer Sheikh Tawfeeq Amer who protesters claim was arrested February 25 after calling in a sermon for Saudi Arabia to become a constitutional democracy.

[In above video, protesters chant "silmiyyeh silmiyyeh" [peaceful, peaceful] and "al-sha'b yurid ifraj 'an al-sheikh tawfic" [the people want the release of Shaykh Tawfic].

Today’s Al Ahsa protest was preceded by one last night in the city of Qatif, also in the Eastern Province, in which 150-200 protesters demanded the release of all political prisoners who they claim are being held without trial. Anti-riot police  allegedly broke up the peaceful demonstration.


 According to Rasid, several confirmed arrests have been made in the aftermath of the Eastern Province’s protests.

5 comments for "Gathering to Protest: Videos from Saudi Arabia"

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If this is what Saudi demos look like I give them another 20 years before they become democratic. Where are the placards, why do they all wear the same clothes, and where are the women?

The women need to be part of the movement.

James wrote on March 04, 2011 at 10:40 PM
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Dear James. Thank you for reading and watching. As you may already know, all forms of gathering in Saudi Arabia are illegal, punishable by a prison sentence, and mostly followed by house arrest, travel and writing/publishing bans, and in some cases, intimidation of family. The many attempts at protesting in Saudi Arabia over the last decades have been almost immediately broken up by alert and intolerant security forces. Only two days ago, rumors circulated around the world that the organizer of one of the Facebook pages calling for a peaceful mass protest on March 11 in the Kingdom has been shot dead. So these few but courageous people who have been taking to the streets and demonstrating for the last month, albeit on a small scale, have not only risked their own lives already, but that of their loved ones. (these small protests have merited the deployment of some tens of thousands of armed forces, see here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudis-mobilise-thousands-of-troops-to-quell-growing-revolt-2232928.html#), and some of them will be spending many years in prison. Where is the outcry of the "democratic" international community? Why has no country in the world condemned the armed and forceful breaking up of the protests, let alone Saudi Arabia's racist, xenophobic, sexist, and authoritarian policies? The Saudi state remains one of the world's biggest allies in the Arab world, and I think that is key to the state of affairs and the future here, more so than what people wear or what placards they carry or choose not carry.

That said, there is much debate here in Saudi Arabia about whether men and women will take to the streets, and whether they are ready to face the grave consequences which that entails. In the video of the protest from Thursday night (the last one here), you see many women marching as well. This, in a country that prohibits gender mixing. Further, in the protests in the Eastern Province, there were many signs, placards, photos of those who were imprisoned indefinitely and without trial, and chants demanding their release and/or fair and timely trial (like those forgotten ones in Guantanamo who have not received fair legal representation, if any).

Jadaliyya Reports wrote on March 05, 2011 at 01:08 PM
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I am amazing what is going on saudiarabia, how people come to street band demand their right woooww

md faisal wrote on March 05, 2011 at 05:32 PM
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"Jadaliyya Reports" I Would be happy to see your comment or one of your astute Saudi writer 'Khuloud's analysis on this particular article from "Arab News"

Young Saudis reject street protests to press their demands http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article304338.ece

MX wrote on March 07, 2011 at 12:10 PM
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Please, lets have "PEACE" and "LOVE" be above all. Problems will be solved in smooth conversation with understanding and respect. Have pity to those innocent ones.....

justine wrote on March 09, 2011 at 12:50 PM

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