Two or more protesters murdered in Saudia Arabia
July 10, 2012
The arrest of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric over the weekend has ignited protests in eastern Saudi Arabia that have left at least two people dead, the Saudi interior ministry told news agencies on Monday.
The cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, is reported to be a prominent voice of protest among Saudi Arabia’s Shiites who say they face discrimination at the hands of dominant Sunnis in the workplace, universities and elsewhere. Mr. Nimr was arrested on Sunday for “sedition” after being shot in the leg in a tussle with the police, Saudi officials said.
The circumstances of his arrest remain murky. The authorities said that Mr. Nimr and his entourage opened fire on police officers attempting to arrest him before crashing into a security patrol while trying to escape, Reuters reported, citing government-run television.
Video reportedly shot just after Mr. Nimr’s arrest shows the cleric lying in the back of a vehicle, his head cradled by a man in uniform. He is covered in either a white sheet or robes that appear to be covered in blood.
Protesters do not appear to have clashed openly with police officers, and it is not clear how the two people were killed. The police said they were investigating.
Though Saudi Arabia’s leaders have kept the revolutionary fervor of the Arab Spring largely in check, protests against the ruling royal family, particularly in the Shiite-dominated east, have not been uncommon, and have occasionally devolved into bloodshed. In February, at least two people were killed in protests over several days in Qatif.