Saudi security forces have opened fire on anti-regime demonstrations in the eastern city of Qatif, injuring several protesters.
The attack came after thousands of Saudi protesters took to the streets in Qatif on Friday, demanding the release of political prisoners, including a prominent Shia cleric.
Chanting slogans in support of social justice in the oil-rich Eastern Province, protestors also asked the regime to stop killing civilians by the Saudi-backed forces in neighboring Bahrain.
Tensions are running high in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province in the past weeks following the detention of Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr.
Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the Kingdom's east, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Ali al-Ahmed, director of IGA, to further discuss the issue. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
I think so since the arrest of Sheikh Nemr the protest frequency has accelerated and the protest movement in the country not only in the Eastern region has expanded.
We saw that yesterday in Jeddah where a few people were gathering outside the ministry of the interior in Jeddah’s, you know, the branch there.
So we are seeing more protests across the country increasing and I have information that the end of Ramadan will have many protests in different cities and new cities in fact to take advantage of the King’s announcement of the conference, so-called Islamic solidarity conference at the end of Ramadan.
So we are seeing an acceleration of the protest movement across the country in different and new cities in fact.
Mr. Al-Ahmed, the response of security forces has also been getting harsher when it comes to these protests as they have picked up since the arrest of Sheikh Nemr. How do you see the continued escalation in the brutality of the Saudi forces moving onwards in the coming days and months as these protests intensify and more eyes are on Saudi Arabia?
They are I think motivated by two things: that they are unable to do anything else, but use violence against mostly young protesters; and the silence of the international community is encouraging them to shoot and to use brutal force against peaceful protesters.
So I think this will continue. However this will encourage the protest movement even further. We will see that in the coming weeks in Ramadan will be really a changing and it will mark a massive change in the protest movement in the country.
The Al Saud household is going through internal frictions of its own as we have seen over the past weeks and months coupled with this intensified protest movement, which is as you have mentioned spreading across the kingdom. What is to come? Is this the beginning of the end of the Al Saud?
I think we are seeing this end more realistic than before, the fact that they are now fighting within their ranks. Among the questions that the security forces have been asking certain activists that if they have any contact with members of their own families who have already departed and are working against the regime.
So we are seeing even within the ruling family, fighting. We have a princess who sought asylum or others who are now outside the country and trying to really unseat the current leadership and just put it to the right stability because of the in-fighting and the end of the Saudi state will be mostly rousted not because of this protest movement alone, but because of the division where it is within the ranks of their own family.
And before I let you go Mr. Al-Ahmed this also brings up the question of Bahrain, the Saudis clinched their grips on the Bahraini protesters in the hopes that it will not have spillover effects in its own soil but that has failed quite clearly. How is the Saudi response to Bahraini protesters going to be from here onwards?
I think they will try to make an example of Bahrain to scare their own population. That has been the policy, what they call it kill one Shia to scare the rest into defense because they know that the protest movement is now reaching Riyadh and Jeddah and other Sunni Muslim strongholds and it is going to mark the rapid end of this cursed family forever.