Saudi Arabia bans protest rallies

Is anyone surprised? The Saudi regime is the most totalitarian of them all, and that’s saying a lot since there’s a very high standard! al-Jazeera: Saudi Arabia has banned all protests and marches following recent anti-government protests in the kingdom’s east, reports say. State television on Saturday quoted the interior ministry as saying that security forces would use all measures to prevent any attempt to disrupt public order. The ban on public demonstrations comes amid media reports of a huge mobilisation of Saudi troops in Shia-dominated provinces in order to quell any possible uprising.

According to The Independent, a British newspaper, 10,000 security personnel are being sent to the region by road, clogging highways into Dammam and other cities.

A restive Shia population has staged a series of protests in the kingdom’s east in the past weeks. Their grievances range from lack of equal economic and employment opportunities to detentions without trial. On Saturday, small protests were held in the cities of Hofuf and Qatif. The government of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy without an elected parliament that usually does not tolerate public dissent, denies any discrimination against the Shia community. The authorities, however, are increasingly on edge following the anti-governmnent protests sweeping across the Arab world. Last week, King Abdullah returned to Riyadh after a three-month medical absence and unveiled $37bn in benefits for citizens in an apparent bid to insulate the kingdom from protests.

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