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Wednesday, May 4, 2011     GET REAL

Saudis arrest Shi'ite human rights activist

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia has detained a Shi'ite activist.


The U.S. group Human Rights Watch said Saudi authorities arrested Fahdil Al Manasif in the Eastern Province on May 1. HRW said Al Manasif was detained in the Shi'ite-populated city of Awamiya, the scene of anti-regime protests in March.

"The latest arrests of peaceful dissidents brings the climate for reform in Saudi Arabia to freezing point," Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

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Al Manasif was deemed a leading human rights activist in Saudi Arabia. Over the last year, he has released photographs and testimony of Shi'ite demonstrations in the oil-rich Eastern Province.

HRW said more than 160 dissidents were arrested in Saudi Arabia from February through April. The group said Riyad has not eased restrictions on peaceful dissent.

"The Saudi ruling family has shown no signs that it might ease its iron grip on the right to express political opinions," Wilcke said.

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