Finally, what the Saudi regime was afraid of is happening in that country. The Arab Spring is passing through Saudi Arabia, and this time Al-Saud oppression has angered the Shiite minority and a huge event is about to happen. At the same time, disputes among the Al-Saud family have also started, particularly with the deterioration of King Abdullah’s health, creating serious challenges for the government of Saudi Arabia. It appears that with the coming to power of Prince Salman, the new Saudi Crown Prince, disagreements among members of this family have intensified.
After Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, the Saudi Shiite cleric, was kidnapped on his way home in Qatif by Saudi security forces, protests and unrest have entered a new phase. Last night, people who live in this area did not sleep and launched demonstrations in the streets until the morning. The majority of residents in Qatif and neighboring Ihsa, along with Al-Sharghiya province, are Shiites with close ties with Bahraini Shiites.
Based on a report by Middle East Online, Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr was abducted Sunday evening on his way home from a farm while driving his own car, by security forces who stopped his car and then kidnapped him.
Different sources report that following this abduction, the people of Qatif poured into the streets and cried slogans against the Al-Saud regime until the next morning. These demonstrations led to clashes with security forces and the deaths of at least two people. Informed sources also state that in this clash close to 10 people were injured; hence, the voice of the Arab Spring is being heard in Saudi Arabia. However, this is not the first time the people of Qatif have demonstrated against the current situation in the country. Two weeks ago, in solidarity with the Bahraini people and in protest against the killing of Shiites in that country, they held demonstrations which were severely confronted by the Saudi police and as a result of which 7 people were killed and 17 others were injured, raising the number of people killed in the demonstrations to 9.
After the demonstration held two weeks ago, Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, in a speech in a mosque in Qatif and in protest against actions by Al-Saud and Al-Khalifa, harshly criticized the Saudi government and said, “I know well that my arrest or murder by the security forces will incite people’s movements and the security forces will crush the people in the name of suppressing the domestic sedition. However, you the people should not relinquish your rights and should continue your way.”
Analysts believe that Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr’s statement has been accurate and he was arrested because he allegedly intended to create domestic sedition. While acknowledging the abduction of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, Mansour Al-Turki, the spokesperson of the Saudi Minister of Interior said, “His provocative statements have caused sedition in the country hence there was no other way than to arrest him.” On Al-Nimr’s health situation, the speaker said, “His thigh was wounded while he was being arrested. He was taken to a hospital in Al-Awamiya city in Qatif and is now receiving medical treatment.” Al-Turki emphasized that they would severely confront any move believed to be in line with creating sedition and unrest in the country.
Al-Nimr, 53, has been arrested by the security forces on numerous occasions. In 2009, in a speech protesting Al-Saud’s discriminatory treatment of Saudi Shiites and Al-Khalifa’s discriminatory treatment of Bahraini Shiites, he called for the secession of Qatif from Saudi Arabia and the joining of it with Bahrain with the aim of creating a homogeneous land as in the past.
This time the Saudi government, in an unrealistic claim, has called the just demonstration of the people as a foreign plot and, without providing any evidence, has accused Iran of being behind it. Saudi officials have claimed that the people’s legitimate demands are terroristic and supported by Iran. About 10 percent of the 19 million Saudis are Shiites. They do not enjoy any Saudi citizen’s rights, they have no right to work in governmental institutions, and they cannot enhance their administrative positions.