Saudi Forces Fire on Protesters in Qatif

Much Larger Protest Planned for Friday, But Many Are Pessimistic

Security forces loyal to the Saudi regime today opened fire on protesters in the town of Qatif, causing a handful of injuries but apparently no deaths, a day ahead of what is expected to be the largest protests the nation has yet seen.

Today’s protest was said to include only about 800 demonstrators. Similarly small protests have been reported in Shi’ite dominated Qatif over the past week, and have led to the arrests of a number of protesters by the government.

Friday’s “day of rage” is expected to draw a large number of protesters, though the monarchy’s hostility toward protests on general principle has many pessimistic that they will actually accomplish anything, at least at first.

The Saudi Interior Ministry has issued a ruling declaring protests illegal as well as “un-Islamic,” and that ruling was backed by top regime clerics. This will make protesting all the more dangerous in the nation.

Though at the same time, grievances against the regime extend far beyond the Shi’ite majority, and the massive unemployment levels (reportedly 40% amongst people in their early 20s) and widespread corruption is fueling unrest nationwide.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.