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SAUDI POLICE ARRESTED SHIAA CLERIC NIMR AL-NIMR

SAUDI POLICE ARRESTED SHIAA CLERIC
 
 NIMR AL-NIMR
 



Security forces in eastern Saudi Arabia have cracked down on a large demonstration in the eastern city of Qatif, on Sunday 07/08/2012, killing two people and injuring at least 20, after a Shiaa leader, Nimr al-Nimr was shot and arrested, activists said (see - Qatif Riots).

Hundreds of protesters were reported to have taken to the streets on Sunday after Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric and anti-government activist, was chased, shot and arrested while driving earlier in the day, human rights Adala Center activist Hussain al-Alk told Al Jazeera.

Alk, a Qatif resident and staffer at the Adala Center for Human Rights, said the arrest took place around 16:00 and that organisers called for mass demonstrations after the evening prayer.

The protests were the largest in the city since November and December 2012, when at least six demonstrators were shot and killed, Hussain al-Alk said. He said that he believed the government was prompted by influential Sunnis to escalate its pressure on the Shiaa opposition (see also the case of  Usama al-Atar).

The official Saudi Press Agency said Nimr al-Nimr was arrested after he and his followers exchanged fire with security forces and crashed into a police vehicle. It said Nimr al-Nimr was shot in the thigh and faces charges of instigating unrest in the oil-rich Eastern Province.

Nimr al-Nimr has been wanted by authorities after making calls for more rights for Shias, a minority denomination in the strictly run Sunni monarchy. In 2009, he suggested forming a movement for succession unless the government released political prisoners, end discrimination against Shiits and take steps against corruption. Many of the Shiites in the region are from Iranian descent and the Saudi authorities refer to the Shiaa community as an Iranian penetration into the Sunni monarchy (see - Shiite Arc).

Activists from the Eastern Province, where most of Saudi Arabia's Shiaa live, posted pictures online of the grey-bearded Nimr al-Nimr in a vehicle covered with what appeared to be a blood-stained white blanket and being cradled by an unidentifiable man in uniform.

Nimr al-Nimr was previously detained for several days in 2004 and 2006, his brother said. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter and a key ally of the USA and Europe, has largely escaped the kind of protests that have toppled four Arab heads of state since last year and have shook other governments.
 
 
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09/07/2012 10:36:52


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