Saudi Regime Arrests 26 Shi’ites as Banned Protests Grow in East

Clerics Back Interior Ministry Claim Protests 'Un-Islamic'

The Saudi Arabian government has arrested at least 26 protesters in the eastern oasis of al-Qatif over the past few days, all of them apparently members of the nation’s Shi’ite minority, as the government struggles to contain growing protests.

The protests have so far been along the Shi’ite communities on the gulf coast, near the island of Bahrain which is experiencing massive protests against its Sunni monarchy. The Saudi kingdom had announced a number of increases in social spending in an attempt to stave off what many saw as inevitable protesting against their harsh style of rule.

The Saudi Council of Senior Clerics, the religious underpinnings of the regime, also endorsed threats by Interior Ministry officials against the protests on the grounds that protesting against one’s regime is “un-Islamic,” with the clerical statement reiterating the regime’s claim to divine right to rule.

Yet protesting seems to be the order of the day across the Muslim world, and given that most of grievances against the Saudi regime are the same ones against the Bahraini, Egyptian, Tunisian, and Libyan regimes, a similar popular uprising should hardly shock them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.