Saudi Arabia

Saudi cleric urges Riyadh to adopt reforms or face rising outrage

pirhayati20130311083549937An influential Saudi cleric has called for the Al Saud regime to initiate reforms or risk public outrage and the possible disintegration of the kingdom, a report says.

The Financial Times reported on Sunday, in an open letter posted on his Facebook and Twitter pages, Sheikh Salman al-Odah warned Saudi royals against “ignoring the symbolism of burning down pictures of officials” and to contemplate what the protests “might lead to.”

“How could a country, which runs according to personal connections instead of institutions, face any challenges?” the Times cited the Saudi cleric. “People are wondering, especially young people, what the communication channels between them and the state are.”

Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

However, the demonstrations turned into protests against the repressive Al Saud regime, especially after November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.

Saudi regime forces have also arrested dozens of people including prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

“People here, like people all over the world, have aspirations and hopes and they won’t keep quiet when part or all of their rights are confiscated,” Odah wrote in the online letter. “When people lose hope anything is possible. The rising anger causes legitimate, political and social leadership to lose control and the street takes the leadership instead.”

According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”

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