The Western-backed regime of Saudi Arabia has been a key counter-revolutionary force against the Arab Spring, but is encountering protests of its own–including hundreds protesting the shooting of an anti-regime cleric, and tens of thousands protesting the killing of protesters.
Police opened fire on peaceful protesters in the eastern province of Qatif in Saudi Arabia–killing two and injuring others–following the arrest of prominent anti-regime cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr on July 8.
According to activists, security forces shot Nimr in an attempt to assassinate him. He was injured and then arrested by Saudi police. Pictures of him covered with a blood-stained white blanket in a police car were circulated in social media. Hundreds of outraged protesters occupied Qatif Roundabout and flooded surrounding streets. Saudi security forces opened fire. Two protestors, Akbar Shakouri from Awamiya and Mohamed Filfil from Qatif, were killed.
Following the incident, the Interior Ministry of Saudi Arabia denied targeting peaceful protestors by saying in a statement: “Gun shots have been overheard in random areas of the town. However, there was no security confrontation whatsoever.”
In order to silence the pro-democracy movement and limit the spread of demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, the Interior Ministry described peaceful protestors and Nimr as “seditious instigators.” Nimr is well known for his speeches that condemn the Saudi ruling family and other dictatorships in the region.
Following those statements, more than 30,000 demonstrators participated in the funeral of Muhamed Filfil chanting “Down with Al-Saud.” The ruling class in Saudi Arabia is threatened by a deep movement against oppression that unites people under the famous chant “No Sunni, no Shia, we are all brothers.”
Protests have not stopped since then. Saudi security forces killed Hussain Al-Qallaf, 19 years. Again, tens of thousands participated in his funeral in Qatif in August 6. Protests have also spread across other parts of Saudi Arabia including Riyadh where activists, protestors and families of political prisoners and victims demand an end to oppression and arbitrary arrests.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, which is backed by imperialists and supplied with US and Canadian arms. By condemning the hypocrisy of Western governments, we can stand in solidarity with pro-democracy movements in the Arab Gulf states.