Massive anti-government protests are impending in Saudi Arabia following the arrest of a senior cleric who called for political reform in the country, an analyst says.
The recent “crackdown” in the city of Qatif on a protest for the release of political prisoners will have dire repercussions for the government in Saudi Arabia, political analyst Mohamed al-Massari told Press TV on Saturday.
“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,” al-Massari said.
On Thursday, hundreds of protesters in the cities of Qatif and Awamiyya took to the streets and called for the release of Shia prisoners, who they say are being held unjustly, some as long as 16 years.
“We want the prisoners free but we also have other demands. We want equality,” a protester in Qatif said.
Saudi authorities arrested 22 people for taking part in the protest in Qatif.
After Friday prayers in Riyadh, protesters gathered in front of Al-Rajhi Mosque in the east of the capital and chanted anti-government and anti-corruption slogans.
Witnesses say Saudi security forces detained at least three people in Riyadh after repeating slogans against the Saudi monarchy.
On Friday, a peaceful protest rally was also held in al-Hufuf district in the Eastern Province after the Friday prayers to condemn the Saudi government’s detention of Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amer who had called for a constitutional monarchy in the kingdom.
Al-Massari predicted that the government’s latest clampdown would bring “thousands more” into the streets on “the eleventh of March” against the government move.
He further noted that the authorities will face a catch-22 in the situation should they resort to force.
“If they use force there will be counter-force,” said the political analyst, adding, “We still have people who are willing to defend their honor with arms.”
Saudi youths have named March 11 the Day of Rage on the social networking website, Facebook.
On February 23, Saudi King Abdullah suddenly promised a $36 billion-package of extra benefits for his people, upon his return from a long medical trip to the US.
Analysts believe the huge hike in benefits introduced by the Saudi king is actually intended to avert an uprising in the Arab country.
Protests and public displays of dissent are forbidden in Saudi Arabia. The government has become increasingly nervous about the protests that have taken the Arab world by storm, toppling the Egyptian and Tunisian presidents, and which recently reached Oman, Bahrain, Yeman and Libya.