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Saudi forces kill two anti-government protesters in Qatif

Al-Akhbar | February 20, 2014

A Saudi court has jailed seven protesters for up to 20 years for joining a demonstration and chanting anti-government slogans in the kingdom’s Eastern Province, local media reported Thursday.

The Eastern Province, where Qatif is located, was the site of frequent Shia-led protests between February 2011 and August 2012.

A specialized court in Riyadh on Wednesday sentenced the young defendants to between six and 20 years in prison and imposed travel bans of the same duration as their jail terms.

They were convicted of “taking part in protests,” “chanting slogans against the state,” and “possessing and making Molotov cocktails,” according to local newspapers.

The court in the ultra-conservative kingdom also sentenced one of the defendants to 80 lashes for consuming alcohol.

The defendants said they would appeal.

Protests first erupted in the province of eastern Saudi Arabia in March 2011. Since then 10 people have been killed in clashes with security forces.

The Eastern Province is home to many of the kingdom’s minority Shias, who have long complained of discrimination in a country that hews to the rigid Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam.

Shias say they are passed over for government jobs, that some of their neighborhoods lack investment afforded to Sunni districts and that powerful government-paid clerics publicly denigrate their faith. The authorities deny discrimination.

Fighting intensified after the arrest in July 2012 of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, considered to be a driving force behind the protests.

However, tensions eased in August that year when seven dignitaries from Qatif hailed a call by King Abdullah for the creation of a center for Sunni-Shia interfaith dialogue.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

February 20, 2014 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , ,

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