2011 Saudi Arabian protests

2011 Saudi Arabian protests

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The 2011 Saudi Arabian protests have been influenced by the Arab Spring
Arab Spring
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

 that started with the 2011 Tunisian revolution
Tunisian revolution
The Tunisian Revolution is an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia. The events began in December 2010 and led to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011...

. One of the main online organisers of a planned 11 March "Day of Rage", Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahad (or Abdul-Ahadwas), was alleged to have been killed by Saudi security forces
Ministry of Interior (Saudi Arabia)
The Ministry of Interior is the responsible authority for national security of Saudi Arabia, Including Police divisions, Rescue and Civil Defense.-Aircraft inventory:! style="text-align: left; background: #aacccc;"|Aircraft...

 on 2 March, by which time one of the Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 groups discussing the plans had over 26,000 members.

Small protests over labor rights
Labor rights
Labor rights or workers' rights are a group of legal rights and claimed human rights having to do with labor relations between workers and their employers, usually obtained under labor and employment law. In general, these rights' debates have to do with negotiating workers' pay, benefits, and safe...

 took place in April in front of government ministry buildings in Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

, Ta’if
Ta’if
Ta’if is a city in the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia at an elevation of on the slopes of the Sarawat Mountains . It has a population of 521,273 . Each summer the Saudi Government moves from the heat of Riyadh to Ta'if...

 and Tabuk
Tabuk
Tabuk , also spelled Tabouk, is the capital city of the Tabuk province in north western Saudi Arabia. It has a population of 441,351 .-History:Around Tabuk, the Battle of Tabouk took place in the time of Islamic prophet Muhammad....

. Protests, made up mainly of Shia protesters, occurred in Qatif
Qatif
Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west...

 and smaller cities in the Eastern Province such as al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah or : is a village situated in the Al-Qatif region in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It has a population of Almost 25,000 people. Al-Awamiyah is bordered by the Al-Ramis farms to the east and some other farms to the west and the south...

, and Hofuf
Hofuf
Al-Hofuf is the major urban center in the Al-Ahsa Oasis in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.- Overview :...

 in April and May. They called for the release of prisoners, for the Peninsula Shield Force to be withdrawn from Bahrain, for equal representation in key offices and for reforms in political positions, as they feel marginalised.

Women organised a Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 campaign called "Baladi", stating that Saudi Arabian law gives women electoral rights. In April, women in Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

, Riyadh and Dammam
Dammam
Dammam is the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, the most oil-rich region in the world. The judicial and administrative bodies of the province and several government departments are located in the city. Dammam is the largest city in the Eastern Province and third largest in Saudi...

 tried to register as electors for the 22 September municipal elections
Saudi Arabian municipal elections, 2011
Municipal elections in Saudi Arabian towns and cities, initially planned for 31 October 2009, are to be held on 29 September 2011 . Women may not participate in the elections...

 despite officials stating that women could not participate. In May and June, Manal al-Sharif
Manal al-Sharif
Manal al-Sharif is a women's rights activist from Saudi Arabia who helped start a women's right to drive campaign in 2011. A women's rights activist who had previously filmed herself driving, Wajeha al-Huwaider, filmed al-Sharif driving a car as part of the campaign. The video was posted on YouTube...

 and other women organised a women's right-to-drive campaign, with the main action to take place on 17 June. Al-Sharif drove a car in May and was detained on 22 May and from 23‒30 May. Other women also drove cars, including actress Wajnat Rahbini, who was arrested after driving in Jeddah on 4 June and released a day later.

Background



The politics of Saudi Arabia takes place in a framework of a particular form of absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 whereby the King of Saudi Arabia is both head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, but where decisions are to a large extent made on the basis of consultation among the senior princes, with the King functioning as primus inter pares and ultimate arbiter. The Basic Law adopted in 1992 declared that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the male descendants of King Abd Al Aziz Al Saud, and that the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 is the constitution of the country, which is governed on the basis of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic law (Shari'a
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

).
An unidentified 65-year-old man died on 21 January after setting himself on fire in the town of Samtah
Samtah
Samtah is a village and sub-division in Jizan Province, Saudi Arabia....

, Jizan
Jizan
-Ethnography:The inhabitants of Jazan, are made up of Arabs. Islam is the religion of almost the totality of the inhabitants of the city and the province.-External links:*http://www.jazan.gov.sa* *http://krwetatnt.com/vb/...

. This was apparently the kingdom's first known case of self-immolation.

29 January


On 29 January, hundreds of protesters gathered in the city of Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

 in a rare display of criticism against the city's poor infrastructure after deadly floods swept through the city, killing eleven people. Police stopped the demonstration about 15 minutes after it started. About 30 to 50 people were arrested. On the same day, an online campaign started on Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

, making demands that included calling for Saudi Arabia to become a constitutional monarchy, and for "an end to corruption, an even distribution of wealth, and a serious solution for unemployment".

5 February


On 5 February, about 40 women wearing black clothes demonstrated in Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

, calling for the release of prisoners held without trial.

10 February


On 10 February, a Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters Corporation is a provider of information for the world's businesses and professionals and is created by the Thomson Corporation's purchase of Reuters Group on 17 April 2008. Thomson Reuters is headquartered at 3 Times Square, New York City, USA...

 report claimed that 10 intellectuals, human rights
Human rights in Saudi Arabia
Human rights in Saudi Arabia are intended to be based on Islamic religious laws under rule of the Saudi royal family. The government of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi legal system, has been criticized for its treatment of religious and political minorities, homosexuals, apostates, and women...

 activists and lawyers came together to create the Umma Islamic Party
Umma Islamic Party
The Umma Islamic Party is a political party in Saudi Arabia that was formed on February 10, 2011 in response to the 2010-2011 Middle East and North Africa protests. Formed by a collective of opposition members including Islamists and intellectuals, the party is pro-reform and demands representation...

 – considered to be the first political party in Saudi Arabia since the 1990s – to demand the end of absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 in the country. On 18 February, all ten founding members of the party were arrested and ordered to withdraw demands for political reform in exchange for their release.

17 February


According to Reuters Africa, a small protest was held by Shia in the small town of al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah or : is a village situated in the Al-Qatif region in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It has a population of Almost 25,000 people. Al-Awamiyah is bordered by the Al-Ramis farms to the east and some other farms to the west and the south...

, near Qatif
Qatif
Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west...

 in the Eastern Province to demand the release of three political prisoners held since protests in the town on March 19, 2009 protesting an arrest warrant against the town's Shia imam, Sheikh Nimr Bagir al Namr. The prisoners were identified as Ali Ahmad al Faraj, the sheikh's 16-year old nephew, and two others, Ali Salih Abdul Jabbar and Makki Al Abbas. The three prisoners were released on February 20.

24 February


A protest was held in Qatif
Qatif
Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west...

 by Shi'a Muslims to demand the release of additional political prisoners.
Video posted to YouTube confirms the existence and location of the protest, showing the roundabout 350 meters south of Ohud Road on King Abdelaziz Road.

25 February


A group called Jeddah Youth for Change called for a rally in Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

 on 25 February.

Late February


Brian Whitaker of The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

interpreted the creation of a website for people to publish complaints about government services, "shakra.com", the circulation of at least three online
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 petitions calling for political and legal reforms and a call for reform that is "the result of meaningful interaction and dialogue among the different components of a society" by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal
Al-Waleed bin Talal
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is a Saudi Arabian billionaire and member of the Saudi royal family. He is the nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. An entrepreneur and international investor he has amassed a fortune through investments in real estate and the stock market.He is founder and CEO of...

 as protest actions that "in a Saudi context [are] momentous".

3–4 March


About 100 people, mostly men, and one group of women, marched in Al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah or : is a village situated in the Al-Qatif region in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It has a population of Almost 25,000 people. Al-Awamiyah is bordered by the Al-Ramis farms to the east and some other farms to the west and the south...

 and Qatif
Qatif
Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west...

 in the Eastern Province, protesting against prisoners held without trial, calling out "Peaceful, peaceful". In Qatif, 22 of the protestors were arrested. Police responses in Qatif included attacks on women protestors.

Protests following Friday 4 March prayers took place in Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

 and Hofuf
Hofuf
Al-Hofuf is the major urban center in the Al-Ahsa Oasis in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.- Overview :...

. In Riyadh, at least 3 people were arrested after criticising the monarchy. Both alarmed and annoyed by such action, the Saudi government reminded citizens that public protesting was banned, and that the ban would be strictly enforced.

9–10 March


Protests took place in the evening of 9 March in Qatif. About 600–800 protestors were present at a similar protest on the evening of 10 March, calling for nine prisoners to be released. About 200 police were present. The police used "percussion bombs" and shot at protestors with gunfire for about 10 minutes. Three protestors were injured and hospitalised with "moderate" injuries.

11 March – "Day of Rage"


A "Day of Rage" was planned by Saudi Arabians on 11 March at noon in solidarity with protests in Libya and Bahrain. A Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

page called for a "March 11 Revolution of Longing" and included demands for "the ousting of the regime" and for the national leader and the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia
Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia
The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia also known as Majlis as-Shura or Shura Council is the formal advisory body of Saudi Arabia, which is an absolute monarchy. It cannot pass or enforce laws, a power reserved for the King. The Consultative Assembly has limited powers in government, including...

 to be chosen by election. It also called for elections for national leadership, more women's rights
Women's rights in Saudi Arabia
Women's rights in Saudi Arabia are defined by Islam and tribal customs. The Arabian peninsula is the ancestral home of patriarchal, nomadic tribes, in which purdah and namus are considered central....

 and for freeing political prisoners. As of 5 March, one of the Facebook groups calling for the Day of Rage had about 26,000 members.

On 11 March itself, protests continued for the third day in a row in Qatif and extended to Hofuf and al-Amawiyah, with several hundred protestors participating in the three protests. In Jeddah, The Los Angeles Times and Agence France Presse reported heavy military and police patrolling and an absence of protests.

In Riyadh, the police presence was "overwhelming" by early in the morning of 11 March, with large numbers of police cars present and helicopters that "crisscrossed the skies all day". One person, Khaled al-Johani
Khaled al-Johani
Khaled al-Johani is a 40 year old teacher of religious instruction in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. , he is imprisoned without trial at `Ulaysha Prison for having publicly asked for freedoms and democracy in Saudi Arabia - an absolute monarchy - during the 2011 Saudi Arabian protests...

, walked past BBC Arabic Television
BBC Arabic Television
BBC Arabic Television is a news and information television channel broadcast to the Middle East by the BBC. It was launched at 0956 GMT on 11 March 2008. The service was announced in October 2005 and was to start broadcasting in Autumn 2007, but was delayed...

 journalists twice and both times was threatened by police that he would be imprisoned if he walked past the journalists, who were accompanied by state escorts, a third time. He stated, "I'm here to say we need democracy, we need freedom. We need to speak freely. We will reach out, the government doesn't own us. I was afraid to speak, but no more. We don't have dignity, we don't have justice!" He stated that there is no freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

 in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, since it is an absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

, and that living a dignified life in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 depends on an individual's connection and mercy of Al-Saud princes. After stating his opinion, al-Johani stated his worry that he would be detained before returning home and said that the journalists could visit him at al-Ha'ir
Al-Ha'ir Prison
Al-Ha'ir Prison is a Saudi Arabian maximum-security prison facility located approximately 25 miles south of Riyadh...

 or `Ulaysha Prison
`Ulaysha Prison
`Ulaysha Prison is a prison in Riyadh run by the Saudi Arabian secret police agency Mabahith for arbitrary detention...

. Al-Johani was detained after he returned home and was not allowed any contact with his family for 58 days. , al-Johani was being held at `Ulaysha Prison. After visiting al-Johani in May, family members said that he had lost weight and was depressed. AOL
AOL
AOL Inc. is an American global Internet services and media company. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York. Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, it has franchised its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services...

 News
said that al-Johani became a "folk hero in the blink of an eye" when the BBC broadcast al-Johani's full statement in April and a six-minute video "Where is Khaled?" was uploaded to YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

. According to Mohammad al-Qahtani of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association
Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association
The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association is a Saudi Arabian human rights non-governmental organisation created in 2009.-Creation:...

, al-Johani became known online as "the only brave man in Saudi Arabia".

13 March


More than 200 people protested outside of the Ministry of the Interior
Ministry of Interior (Saudi Arabia)
The Ministry of Interior is the responsible authority for national security of Saudi Arabia, Including Police divisions, Rescue and Civil Defense.-Aircraft inventory:! style="text-align: left; background: #aacccc;"|Aircraft...

 in Riyadh on Sunday 13 March, asking for information about prisoners and their immediate release. Protestor Ahmed Ali said that his brother has been imprisoned for four years and nothing is known about him nor the charges against him. Another protestor said that his father has been in prison for 10 years without receiving medical attention for his colon cancer nor a trial. The protestors asked to meet with the Minister for the Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. The request was refused and entry to the Ministry building was refused.

15–18 March


On 15 March, about 1000 people protested in Qatif calling for the Peninsula Shield Force to be withdrawn from Bahrain, where it is being used against Bahraini protestors. A related protest took place in al-Awamiyah. Hundreds of people protested in Qatif and the nearby region on 16 March, calling for the release of prisoners and expressing support for the Bahraini protestors. Anti-riot forces were present at the protests. The Qatif demonstration lasted for about half an hour. Protestors called for the Peninsula Shield Force to be withdrawn from Bahrain. The protests continued the following day, 17 March, in and near Qatif, with similar demands, and about 4000 protestors in Qatif. Police fired rubber bullets and several people were injured. One slogan used in the protests was "Bahrain Free Free. Saudi forces out!". Similar protests took place on Friday 18 March, in Qatif
Qatif
Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west...

, Omran, al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah or : is a village situated in the Al-Qatif region in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It has a population of Almost 25,000 people. Al-Awamiyah is bordered by the Al-Ramis farms to the east and some other farms to the west and the south...

 (about 2500 protestors), Safwa City
Safwa city
Safwa is a city located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It is located north of Qatif and south of Jubail. Safwa has a population of 70,000.-External links:*...

 and al-Rabeeya (1000 protestors each). Ten people in Omran were injured from being hit by police batons. One of the slogans in Qatif was "One people not two people — the people of Qatif and Bahrain!"

20 March–1 April


Calls for protests on 20 March were made on a Facebook page in late February.

On 20 March, about 100 people demonstrated outside the Ministry of the Interior in Riyadh, calling for family members imprisoned without trial to be released, for the third time in March, following similar protests on 4 March and 13 March. The demonstrators tried to enter the Ministry building, which was surrounded by about 50 police cars. About 15 to 50 protestors were arrested.

Hundreds demonstrated in Qatif on 20 March against the use of the Peninsula Shield Force troops from the six Gulf Cooperation Council
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf , also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council , is a political and economic union of the Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf and constituting the Arabian Peninsula, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates...

 states against the 2011 Bahraini uprising
2011 Bahraini uprising
The 2011 Bahraini uprising, sometimes called the February 14 Revolution is a series of demonstrations, amounting to a sustained campaign of civil resistance, in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain...

. Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters Corporation is a provider of information for the world's businesses and professionals and is created by the Thomson Corporation's purchase of Reuters Group on 17 April 2008. Thomson Reuters is headquartered at 3 Times Square, New York City, USA...

described the intervention in Bahrain as having caused the protests to intensify, reporting an incident in which the second home of Sheikh Wajeeh al-Awjami, a judge calling for street protests to stop, was burnt by angry youths.

Similar protests by hundreds of people in villages near Qatif took place on Friday 25 March and again in Qatif and al-Awamiyah on 1 April.

5 April


About a hundred literacy campaign teachers held a street demonstration outside the Ministry of Civil Services
Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Council of Ministers is the Cabinet of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is led by the King who is Prime Minister. The Council consists of the Prime Minister, the Crown Prince, who is Deputy Prime Minister, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers...

 in Riyadh on 5 April, demanding to be employed full-time. Similar demonstrations took place in Ta’if
Ta’if
Ta’if is a city in the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia at an elevation of on the slopes of the Sarawat Mountains . It has a population of 521,273 . Each summer the Saudi Government moves from the heat of Riyadh to Ta'if...

 and Tabuk. Officials at the Ministry in Riyadh promised to fulfill the demands.

8 April


Hundreds of people again protested in Qatif and al-Awamiyah against the use of the Peninsula Shield Force troops from the six Gulf Cooperation Council states against the 2011 Bahraini uprising and for their own political rights and freedoms. Thomson Reuters stated that no riot police were seen at the Qatif demonstration. Press TV
Press TV
Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by the Iranian government. Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran, with bureaux in Beirut , Damascus , London , Seoul and Washington DC ....

said that there was a heavy presence of security forces at both demonstrations, but no clashes or arrests occurred.

10 April


On Sunday 10 April, small protests by literacy teachers and unemployed university graduates regarding labor rights
Labor rights
Labor rights or workers' rights are a group of legal rights and claimed human rights having to do with labor relations between workers and their employers, usually obtained under labor and employment law. In general, these rights' debates have to do with negotiating workers' pay, benefits, and safe...

 took place in front of the Ministries of Civil Services and Education in Riyadh and the Ministry of Education in Jeddah. Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 was used for coordinating one of the protests.

14–15 April


Protests against the use of the Peninsula Shield Force troops in the 2011 Bahraini uprising
2011 Bahraini uprising
The 2011 Bahraini uprising, sometimes called the February 14 Revolution is a series of demonstrations, amounting to a sustained campaign of civil resistance, in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain...

 and for local political rights and freedoms, including the release of prisoners held without trial, again took place in Qatif
Qatif
Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west...

 and al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah
Al-Awamiyah or : is a village situated in the Al-Qatif region in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It has a population of Almost 25,000 people. Al-Awamiyah is bordered by the Al-Ramis farms to the east and some other farms to the west and the south...

 on 14 and 15 April, with about 400–500 protestors in each town and no clashes with police.

21–22 April


Protests for similar reasons again took place in Qatif, al-Awamiyah and Saihat
Saihat
Saihat City is a city located on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, within the Al-Qatif Governorate. With a population of 100,000 in 2005.- History :...

 by a few tens to a few hundred protestors. A new complaint made by the protestors was against the destruction of mosques in Bahrain by the Peninsula Shield Force.

23–25 April


In a civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 action from 23–25 April, women in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam
Dammam
Dammam is the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, the most oil-rich region in the world. The judicial and administrative bodies of the province and several government departments are located in the city. Dammam is the largest city in the Eastern Province and third largest in Saudi...

 tried to register as electors for the 22 September municipal elections
Saudi Arabian municipal elections, 2011
Municipal elections in Saudi Arabian towns and cities, initially planned for 31 October 2009, are to be held on 29 September 2011 . Women may not participate in the elections...

 despite an official ban against women's participation. The Gulf News
Gulf News
Gulf News is a daily English language newspaper published from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates with a December 2009 BPA audited circulation of over 117,036 qualified copies...

said that there was "strong public opinion ... supporting women's participation in the election process" following local newspapers' publication of photos of women waiting in queues to register for the election. Fawzia Al Hani, chair of the "Baladi" Facebook campaign, said that Saudi Arabian law states that women have the right to vote and to stand as candidates.

29 April


In the Eastern Province during the days leading up to 29 April, about 20 to 30 people, including two bloggers, were arrested for anti-government activities. On 29 April, a few hundred people demonstrated in Qatif and al-Awamiyah for similar reasons to previous weeks. Five protestors were injured by police in Qatif.

May


Street protests in and near Qatif and the beginning of a women's driving campaign took place in May.

According to Press TV
Press TV
Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by the Iranian government. Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran, with bureaux in Beirut , Damascus , London , Seoul and Washington DC ....

, hundreds of people protested in Qatif on 5 May, hundreds protested in Qatif and al-Awamiyah on 13 May, and protests occurred in Qatif on 20 May. The protests were against the use of the Peninsula Shield Force troops in the 2011 Bahraini uprising, against the arbitrary detention of protestors in previous demonstrations, and for improved human rights, especially freedom of speech.

During the second week of May 2011, a woman inspired by the Arab Spring
Arab Spring
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

, Najla Hariri, started driving a car in Jeddah despite a de facto ban on women driving. She stated, "Before in Saudi, you never heard about protests. [But] after what has happened in the Middle East, we started to accept a group of people going outside and saying what they want in a loud voice, and this has had an impact on me." On 21 May, Manal al-Sharif
Manal al-Sharif
Manal al-Sharif is a women's rights activist from Saudi Arabia who helped start a women's right to drive campaign in 2011. A women's rights activist who had previously filmed herself driving, Wajeha al-Huwaider, filmed al-Sharif driving a car as part of the campaign. The video was posted on YouTube...

, a women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 activist who helped start a women's right to drive campaign, was detained for six hours after a video showing her driving in Khobar
Khobar
Khobar is a large city located in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf. It has a population of 360,000 and forms part of the greater Dammam metropolitan area along with Dhahran, which together have a combined population of over two million...

 in the Eastern Province, filmed by another women's rights activist, Wajeha al-Huwaider
Wajeha al-Huwaider
Wajeha al-Huwaider is a female Saudi activist and writer. She is a co-founder of The Association for the Protection and Defense of Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia....

, gained widespread popularity on YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

 and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

. Al-Sharif was detained again from 22 May to 30 May, when she was released on bail
Bail
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

, on the conditions of returning for questioning if requested, not driving and not talking to the media. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

and Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

associated the long duration of al-Sharif's detention with Saudi authorities' fear of protests. On 23 May, another woman was detained for driving a car. She drove with two women passengers in Ar Rass
Ar Rass
Rass is a Saudi Arabian town, located in the Al Qassim Province. It lies southwest of Buraydah, the capital of the province and also north of Riyadh, the national capital....

 and was detained by traffic police in the presence of the religious police (CPVPV)
Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Saudi Arabia)
The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice or HAIA is the Saudi Arabian government bureaucracy employing "religious police" or mutaween to...

. She was released after signing a statement that she would not drive again. In reaction to al-Sharif's arrest, several more Saudi women published videos of themselves driving during the following days.

June


The women's driving campaign continued in June.

Wajnat Rahbini, a Saudi actress famous in the Arab world for playing in the satirical comedy Tash ma Tash
Tash ma Tash
Tash Ma Tash is a popular Saudi Arabian satirical comedy that has been running for 18 seasons so far. It used to air on the Saudi State-owned television channel Saudi Channel 1 for 13 seasons but in 2005 it was bought by MBC...

, broadcast annually during Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

, drove her car "in defiance of a long-standing ban on female driving" on 4 June in Jeddah. She was detained after exiting her car and released the following day without bail.

On 17 June, the main date for the women's driving campaign, about 30 to 40 women drove cars in towns around Saudi Arabia, including Maha al-Qahtani and Eman al-Nafjan in Riyadh, and other women in Jeddah and Dammam. When she drove for a second time the same day, al-Qahtani was given a ticket for driving without a Saudi Arabian licence. The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

interpreted the lack of arrests as a deliberate change in government policy, stating, "police appeared to be under orders not to intervene."

October


On 4 October, there was a firefight between unidentified gunmen and Saudi security personnel in Al Qatif, injuring between 11 police and at least 3 civilians. The government blamed "a foreign country", presumably Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, for the unrest.

This confrontation grew out of a conflict in al-Awamiyah, a predominantly Shi'a town in the Sunni kingdom, on Sunday when security forces arrested a 60-year-old man to force his son, who was active in a movement to force Saudi Arabia to withdraw from Bahrain, to give himself up. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the police station.

Domestic


On 10 February, a Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters Corporation is a provider of information for the world's businesses and professionals and is created by the Thomson Corporation's purchase of Reuters Group on 17 April 2008. Thomson Reuters is headquartered at 3 Times Square, New York City, USA...

 report claimed that 10 intellectuals, human rights
Human rights in Saudi Arabia
Human rights in Saudi Arabia are intended to be based on Islamic religious laws under rule of the Saudi royal family. The government of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi legal system, has been criticized for its treatment of religious and political minorities, homosexuals, apostates, and women...

 activists and lawyers came together to create the Umma Islamic Party
Umma Islamic Party
The Umma Islamic Party is a political party in Saudi Arabia that was formed on February 10, 2011 in response to the 2010-2011 Middle East and North Africa protests. Formed by a collective of opposition members including Islamists and intellectuals, the party is pro-reform and demands representation...

 – considered to be the first political party in Saudi Arabia since the 1990s – to demand the end of absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 in the country. On February 18 however, all ten members of the party were arrested and ordered to withdraw demands for political reform in exchange for their release.

On 23 February, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, after returning to the country following three months spent abroad for health treatment, announced a series of benefits for citizens amounting to $10.7 billion. These include funding to offset high inflation and to aid young unemployed people and Saudi citizens studying abroad, as well the writing off some loans. As part of the Saudi scheme, state employees will see their incomes increase by 15 per cent, and additional cash has also been made available for housing loans. No political reforms were announced as part of the package, though the 86-year-old monarch did pardon some prisoners indicted in financial crimes.

On 6 March, the Saudi Arabian Council of Senior Scholars, headed by Grand Mufti
Grand Mufti
The title of Grand Mufti refers to the highest official of religious law in a Sunni or Ibadi Muslim country. The Grand Mufti issues legal opinions and edicts, fatwā, on interpretations of Islamic law for private clients or to assist judges in deciding cases...

 Abd al-'Aziz al-Ashaikh
Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh
Abd al-'Aziz ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Lateef Aal ash-Shaikh is a Muslim scholar and the current Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.-Biography:...

, issued a fatwā
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 (religious opinion) opposing petitions and demonstrations, declaring, "Therefore the council hereby reaffirms that only the reform and [counsel] that has its legitimacy is that which may bring welfare and avert the evil, whereas it is illegal to issue statements and take signatures for the purposes of intimidation and inciting the strife. ... reform should not be by demonstrations and other means and methods that give rise to unrest and divide the community. ... The Council affirms prohibition of the demonstrations in this country and [that] the legal method which realizes the welfare without causing destruction rests on the mutual advice." The fatwa included a "severe threat against internal dissent", stating, "[The Prophet] again said: 'He who wanted separate affairs of this nation who are unified, you should kill him with sword whoever he is' (narrated by Muslim)." In late March, Abd al-'Aziz al-Ashaikh called for a million copies of the fatwa to be printed and distributed.

On 22–23 March 2011, officials of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural affairs
Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Council of Ministers is the Cabinet of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is led by the King who is Prime Minister. The Council consists of the Prime Minister, the Crown Prince, who is Deputy Prime Minister, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers...

 announced that men-only municipal elections to elect half the members of local councils would held on 22 September 2011
Saudi Arabian municipal elections, 2011
Municipal elections in Saudi Arabian towns and cities, initially planned for 31 October 2009, are to be held on 29 September 2011 . Women may not participate in the elections...

. Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

described the election announcement as having "coincided with rumblings of dissent in Saudi Arabia stemming from the wave of political unrest in the Arab world."

Arrests and other repression
About 30 to 50 people were arrested following the 29 January Jeddah demonstration. On 18 February, the ten founding members of the Umma Islamic Party
Umma Islamic Party
The Umma Islamic Party is a political party in Saudi Arabia that was formed on February 10, 2011 in response to the 2010-2011 Middle East and North Africa protests. Formed by a collective of opposition members including Islamists and intellectuals, the party is pro-reform and demands representation...

 were arrested and ordered to withdraw demands for political reform in exchange for their release.

According to a Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH is a news agency founded in 1949 in Germany. Based in Hamburg, it has grown to be a major worldwide operation serving print media, radio, television, online, mobile phones, and national news agencies. News is available in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic.The DPA...

 report on 2 March, Saudi activists have alleged that one of the main administrators of one of the Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 groups calling for a "Day of Rage" on 11 March, Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahad (or Abdul-Ahadwas), was killed by Saudi security forces
Ministry of Interior (Saudi Arabia)
The Ministry of Interior is the responsible authority for national security of Saudi Arabia, Including Police divisions, Rescue and Civil Defense.-Aircraft inventory:! style="text-align: left; background: #aacccc;"|Aircraft...

, who removed his body in order to "hide evidence of the crime".

On 5 March, thousands of security forces were sent to the north-east, causing delays on the road to Dammam
Dammam
Dammam is the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, the most oil-rich region in the world. The judicial and administrative bodies of the province and several government departments are located in the city. Dammam is the largest city in the Eastern Province and third largest in Saudi...

. On the same day, following about two weeks of small protests in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of the Interior
Ministry of Interior (Saudi Arabia)
The Ministry of Interior is the responsible authority for national security of Saudi Arabia, Including Police divisions, Rescue and Civil Defense.-Aircraft inventory:! style="text-align: left; background: #aacccc;"|Aircraft...

 warned that the "ban [on] all sorts of demonstrations, marches, sit-ins" imposed by Saudi law would be enforced.

On 9 March, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal stated that the government would not tolerate any street protests against it, while also saying that the "best way to achieve demands is through national dialogue".

On 21 March, Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association
Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association
The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association is a Saudi Arabian human rights non-governmental organisation created in 2009.-Creation:...

 (ACPRA) co-founder Mohammed Saleh Albejadi (also Al-Bjady) was arrested in Buraidah
Buraidah
Buraidah is the capital of Al-Qassim Province in northcentral Saudi Arabia in the heart of the Arabian peninsula. Buraidah lies equidistant from the Red Sea to the west and the Persian Gulf to the east...

 by Mabahith
Mabahith
The Mabahith , also spelled Mabaheth, is the secret police agency of the Ministry of Interior in Saudi Arabia.According to Human Rights Watch, the Mabahith "monitors suspected political opponents and others, targets individuals for arrest, and interrogates detainees...

, the internal security agency. ACPRA stated that the arrest was arbitrary, in violation of the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia
Basic Law of Saudi Arabia
The Basic Law of Saudi Arabia is a constitution-like charter divided into nine chapters, consisting of 83 articles...

 and the Law of Criminal Procedures.
Both the ACPRA and Human Rights First Society
Human Rights First Society
The Human Rights First Society is a Saudi Arabian human rights non-governmental organisation led by Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb since 2002.-Founding and status:...

 called for his immediate, unconditional release.

On 27 March, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 estimated that the "scale of arrests [rose] dramatically during the preceding two weeks", up to about 160 protestors and critics being held without charge.

Censorship
In mid-March, Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters Corporation is a provider of information for the world's businesses and professionals and is created by the Thomson Corporation's purchase of Reuters Group on 17 April 2008. Thomson Reuters is headquartered at 3 Times Square, New York City, USA...

' chief correspondent in Saudi Arabia, Ulf Laessing, who had reported from Riyadh since 2009, had his journalistic accreditation withdrawn because of his reporting on the early 2011 Saudi Arabian protests, effectively forcing him to leave Saudi Arabia.

International


Exiled Saudi physicist and political dissident Mohammad al-Massari
Mohammad al-Massari
Dr. Mohammad Al-Massari is an exiled Saudi physicist and political dissident who gained asylum in the United Kingdom in 1994. He runs the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights and is an adviser to the Islamic Human Rights Commission....

 described police attacks on women in the 3 March Qatif demonstration as a strategic error, saying, "They made a stupid mistake by attacking women and so on because they think Shia women do not have ... the honor protection like the rest of the women in the country. But attacking women in Saudi Arabia, in an Islamic country is very severe, very negative and catastrophic ... and this will have dire repercussions."

Media
Journalist Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk is an English writer and journalist from Maidstone, Kent. As Middle East correspondent of The Independent, he has primarily been based in Beirut for more than 30 years. He has published a number of books and has reported on the United States's war in Afghanistan and the same country's...

 said that the protests were known as the "Hunayn Revolution," after the Battle of Hunayn
Battle of Hunayn
The Battle of Hunain was fought between Muhammad and his followers against the Bedouin tribe of Hawazin and its subsection the Thaqif in 630 in a valley on one of the roads leading from Mecca to al-Ta'if. The battle ended in a decisive victory for the Muslims, who captured enormous spoils...

 fought between Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 and the Hawazin
Hawazin
Ha'wa zin was a sub-division from the Qais Ailan tribe, Hawazin is the mighty Pre-Islamic Arabian tribe concentrated in the area around Ta’if in the Arabian Peninsula. Its descendants are scattered across the Middle-East and North Africa as many of its members were dispatched after the Muslim...

.

Other
On 21 February, oil prices rose in response to the 2011 Libyan uprising and speculation regarding the 11 March Saudi Arabian Day of Rage. The Saudi Tadawul
Tadawul
Saudi Stock Exchange or Tadawul is the only stock exchange in Saudi Arabia. It is supervised by the Capital Market Authority. The Tadawul All-Share Index reached its highest point at 20,634.86 on 25 February 2006. It lists 144 publicly traded companies...

 stock market index fell to a seven month low on stability concerns.

On the week of 27 February, global stock prices fell as oil prices increased and silver reached a 30-year high price on stability concerns in the region. Regional stock market indices also fell on concern for Saudi stability.

See also


  • Human rights in Saudi Arabia
    Human rights in Saudi Arabia
    Human rights in Saudi Arabia are intended to be based on Islamic religious laws under rule of the Saudi royal family. The government of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi legal system, has been criticized for its treatment of religious and political minorities, homosexuals, apostates, and women...

  • Freedom in the World
  • List of freedom indices


External links