Saudi Arabia isn’t new to protest and chaos. Its history of oppression has tarnished the country’s reputation in the face of several human rights violations. 

Protests in Saudi Arabia today are being planned to call for an end to the suppression and intimidation by the ruling Al Saud regime. Here’s everything you need to know about Saudi Arabia’s history of dissent, especially in the light of 14 men being executed for pro-democracy slogans. 

What are the protests in Saudi Arabia today regarding? 

In July 2021, the country of Saudi Arabia arose in dissent for the umpteenth time in the last decade. This time, the murals of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his son, the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman were earmarked ahead of the nationwide protests. These protests called for the end of oppression and menace against the Al Saud regime.  

The protests were supposed to take place on the Day of Arafah, which marked the second day of the yearly Hajj pilgrimage. The day after Arafah Day is the first day of the annual Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha. Less than 48 hours before the protest, protestors started targeting said murals. US-based Saudi opposition activist Ali al-Ahmen tweeted about it as well. 

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The protestors were passionate to condemn what they considered to be the injustices caused by the Saudi authorities. They demanded the release of all political prisoners and called for an end to Saudi suppression. 

Even though no specific political party or activist group was identified to organize the protests, it has been rumored that these protests spread via Twitter as people started to tweet “Arafat day protest” to slate Riyadh’s authority. 

Viral tweets also criticized the secularization of the Saudi state under the kingdom’s crown prince. They called for the end of “tampering with the religion”  and “destroying the identity” of the Saudi society and people. 

The Saudi crown prince is championed in the West for modernizing the kingdom. But, in reality, that isn’t the case. Protests in Saudi Arabia today have pointed out the role of Mohammed bin Salman as Saudi Arabia executes man, Jamal Khashoggi (journalist). It is believed that he is replacing the extremism of the Wahhabi principles with the extremism of imposing Western culture on a traditional religious society. 

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Saudi Arabia Executions 2021

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Saudi Arabia boys’ executions today point to 14 pro-democracy protestors who have denounced the repression caused by the state and have been caught up in protests against the royal family. What is more distressing is that the British police may have been responsible for getting them arrested. 

Saudi Arabia is one of the most extremist nations where a peaceful protest may land you the death penalty. These men who are facing being imminently beheaded have raised the delicate question regarding the plight of the Shia minority in the predominantly Sunni empire. 

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These activists were given the death penalty after they were convicted of a series of terrorism charges. They had taken to the streets of Saudi Arabia as part of the Arab Spring protests of 2011 which had swept across all Islamic streets in a bid to topple the oppressive government. These executions are proof of the ongoing breakdown of the rights of the minority faith in the kingdom. 

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What is most disturbing about the Saudi Arabia executions 2021 is that the British policy may have been directly involved in their arrests. Reprieve, a human rights organization has reported that the training from British police officers was preparing the Saudi Police with skills that were used to identify, torture, and subject the 14 protestors to various human rights abuses. 

image courtesy: Voice of America

UK’s secretive tutelage of foreign regimes with suspicious human rights records was heavily criticized last year in the Parliament. The Home Affairs Select Committee reported that the College of Policing made more than 8.5 million Euros through international work. This “international work” includes training in child abuse investigations, forensics, and counter-terrorism. 

Apparently, hundreds of Saudi Arabian police officers were trained by the British police force in the UK. There were also plans to expand the training from forensics to mobile phone analysis, cyber-security, and CCTV systems. Theresa May’s silence concerning the entire issue is appalling. 

Response to the Saudi Arabia Executions 2021

The Saudi Arabian authorities claimed in essence that the pro-democracy protests by these 14 men had turned violent, and they were charged the death penalty for “violent attacks on the police and threat to the government”. However, the families of the protestors and several campaigners have argued that confessions were extracted under coercion and torture. 

One of the arrested protestors, Mujtaba al Sweikat who was just 17 at the time of the protests was on his way to study at the University of Michigan when he was arrested in the airport. On his charge sheet, the young teenager was accused of supervising a Facebook group and photographing the demonstrations. 

Saudi Arabia wasn’t the only country that saw riots in 2011. A police shooting in Tottenham, North London took place as well. However, the accused were released after 3 years in prison. In that case, it isn’t fair to charge someone with the death penalty. 

The UN and Human Rights Watch have recognized that the protests were generally peaceful but they erupted in violence in retaliation to the coercion used by the Saudi forces. A team of MPs has officially written to Theresa May calling her to personally urge the Saudi Arabian authorities to halt the execution. 

Unfortunately, protests in Saudi Arabia today are still ongoing and there seems to be no end to the oppression by the State. 

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