Sunday, March 06, 2011

Saudi Arabia bans all protest and marches

Move follows several small demonstrations by minority Shiites

updated 3/5/2011 8:44:05 AM ET

RIYADH— Saudi Arabia said Saturday it
would ban all protests and marches after
minority Shiites staged small protests in the
oil-producing eastern province.

Security forces would use all measures to
prevent any attempt to disrupt public order,
the interior ministry said in a statement
carried by state television.

The ban follows a series of protests by Saudi
Shiites in the kingdom's east in the past weeks
mainly to demand the release of prisoners
they say are long held without trial.

Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority mostly live in the
east, which holds much of the oil wealth of the
world's top crude exporter and is near
Bahrain, scene of protests by majority Shiites
against their Sunni rulers.

Saudi Shiites complain they struggle to get
senior government jobs and other benefits
like other citizens.

The government of Saudi Arabia, an absolute
monarchy without an elected parliament that
usually does not tolerate public dissent,
denies these charges.

Last week, King Abdullah returned to Riyadh
after a three-month medical absence and
unveiled $37 billion in benefits for citizens in
an apparent bid to insulate the kingdom from
protests spreading in several Arab countries


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