Saudis: Shi'ite protests are violation of Islamic law

Monday, March 11, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia, fearful of rising Shi'ite unrest, has banned all demonstrations.

The kingdom announced a ban on all protests and demonstrations amid Shi'ite unrest in the Eastern Province. The Interior Ministry said it would use all measures to quell unauthorized public gatherings.

"Based on the attempt by some to evade relevant legal systems, all demonstrations, marches and sit-ins are banned," the ministry said on March 5.

The ban came after the resumption of Shi'ite protests in the oil-producing region of Saudi Arabia. Officials said the Shi'ite demonstrations were sparked by Iran and sought to follow that of the unrest in neighboring Bahrain.

"Security forces will use all measures to prevent any attempt to disrupt public order," the ministry said on March 5.

On March 4, Saudi Shi'ites staged two demonstrations. The protests, which contained more than 100 people each, were held in Hofuf and Qatif. Earlier, another protest took place in Awamiya, next to Qatif.

The demonstrators called for the release of Shi'ite prisoners, including a prominent cleric, said to have been held without charges. There were no reports of arrests.

King Abdullah has also feared unrest by the Sunni minority amid the Arab revolt throughout the Middle East. In February, Abdullah vowed to distribute $37 billion to Saudi nationals.

The Interior Ministry said demonstrations against the kingdom violated Islamic law as well as Saudi tradition. The ministry did not elaborate.

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