Protesters hold pictures of Sheikh Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr during a rally in the eastern town of Qatif against the Shia cleric’s arrest on July 8, 2012.
Tensions are escalating in Saudi Arabia as people hold a funeral ceremony for a man killed during a protest against the arrest of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr.
New pictures surfaced on Wednesday showed people in the city of Awamiyah, in the restive Eastern Province, holding a funeral for Akbar Hassan Shakhouri.
On July 8, Saudi security forces in Qatif opened fire on demonstrators, who were protesting against the detention of al-Nemr. Saudi forces shot and killed Shakhouri and two others during the protest. Many others were injured in the attack.
Earlier in the day, al-Nemr was injured when regime forces fired at his car in Awamiyah. There has been no word on his condition or whereabouts.
Since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the Eastern Province, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
Similar demonstrations have also been held in the capital Riyadh and the holy city of Medina over the past few weeks.
However, the demonstrations turned into protests against the regime of the House of Saud, especially after November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the Eastern Province.
The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a statement on March 5, 2011, prohibiting “all forms of demonstrations, marches or protests, and calls for them, because that contradicts the principles of the Islamic sharia, the values and traditions of Saudi society, and results in disturbing public order and harming public and private interests.”
In June, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered the country’s security forces to go on a state of high alert due to what he called a “turbulent situation” in the region.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”