Saudis Arrested 164 Syrian Protesters in Riyadh

Syrian Rights Group Slams Weeks of Detention

Earlier this month, some 164 Syrian expatriates rallied in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh to protest against the Assad regime’s violent crackdown on dissent and to cheer comments made by Jordanian King Abdullah criticizing that crackdown.

According to direct Rami Abdelrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the protesters wanted to “express support for the King as the first Arab ruler to express his opinion publicly about the situation in Syria.

Expressing opinions publicly is a big no-no in Saudi Arabia, however, which earlier this year invaded Bahrain to help the regime there crush pro-democracy protests, and the 164 expat protesters were arrested for violating a Saudi ban on all public demonstrations.

The detentions reflect Saudi paranoia about dissent in any form, but are particularly noteworthy in this case because the Saudi Kingdom seems to be hoping that Assad is overthrown in favor of a more Saudi-friendly government. Even demonstrators taking a position largely congruent with regime interests aren’t exempt from the Saudi police state, it seems.

Protests in Saudi Arabia may have halted, but the ones in Syria are continuing apace, as are crackdowns in the east, where troops killed at least one person and arrested scores.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.