Anti-government protesters take to the streets in Saudi Arabia despite authorities deploying hundreds of security forces in the capital, Riyadh.
Online activists using social networks have called for a “Day of Rage” rally across Saudi Arabia on March 11 after the Friday Prayers to press for democratic reforms in the kingdom.
However, since early morning, security forces blocked roads and set up checkpoints across the capital and other major cities in a move to deter protesters from the planned rallies.
There are reports suggesting that hundreds of Shia anti-government protesters have taken to the streets in the eastern town of Hufuf, demanding the release of Shia prisoners, who they say are being held unjustly, some as long as 16 years.
On Thursday, Saudi police opened fire on a protest rally in the eastern city of Qatif, injuring at least three Shia protesters. Witnesses say police also beat demonstrators with batons.
Protesters were calling for the release of nine Shia prisoners who they say have been held without trial for more than 14 years.
In Saudi Arabia, protest rallies and any public displays of dissent are forbidden and are considered illegal. Senior Wahhabi clerics in the kingdom have also censured opposition demonstrations as “un-Islamic.”
A Facebook group, which has over 17,000 members, has also called for a “Saudi Revolution” on March 20. Tens of thousands of Saudis have already joined the drive. Agencies