SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — A senior Iranian cleric has condemned the continued crackdown on peaceful protests in Saudi Arabia, calling on Riyadh to release jailed Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr.
“Saudi Arabia should know that it cannot hold clerics in jail through the violence of security forces and the killing and wounding of Muslims,” Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi said on Thursday, IRIB reported.
The Ayatollah was referring to Sheikh Nemr’s detention on July 8, when Saudi security forces fired at the cleric's car in Awamiyah, Eastern Province, and arrested him.
Later in the day, three people were killed when security forces in Qatif, also in Eastern Province, opened fire on demonstrators, who were protesting against the detention of al-Nemr.
“They should know that the Muslims in al-Ahsa and Qatif are not alone and Muslims across the world support them,” Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi added.
The cleric further expressed hope that officials in Riyadh will “regain their reason” and release the prominent Saudi cleric.
“Muslims in Qatif and al-Ahsa are not demanding much; they say ‘we have been deprived of everything, here is an oil-producing region, plenty of oil is being extracted from here and our rights should be asserted like those of other Saudi citizens’,” he said.
Since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the Eastern Province, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
Calls for meeting people’s demands have so far fallen on deaf ears in Riyadh, where King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in June ordered security forces to go on a state of high alert due to a “turbulent situation” in the region.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.” — www.shafaqna.com/english/