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Saudi regime forces abduct female activist in Shia-populated Qatif

This file picture shows Saudi Arabian police officers in Riyadh. (Photo by Reuters)

Saudi regime forces have arrested a female Shia activist in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its brutal clampdown against pro-democracy campaigners and political dissidents.

Human rights activist and lawyer Taha al-Hajji, in a post published on her Twitter page, stated that Saudi troopers arrested 19-year-old Nour Said al-Musallam in Qatif region, located more than 420 kilometers (260 miles) east of the capital Riyadh, earlier this week.

A local source, requesting anonymity, said Musallam was arrested following an investigation into her Twitter posts dating back to as early as 2015, in which she expressed her opinion about local and regional developments.

“The young woman was released on parole after being interrogated. She was then summoned to appear in court and arrested afterwards,” the source added.

The source added that the young Shia activist used to voluntarily participate in the protection of local mosque and Shia congregation sites with other women against potential Daesh threats, and played a principal role in the beautification and improvement of streets in Safwa city.

Musallam’s arrest brings to four the number of female Shia activists currently behind bars in Saudi Arabia. The three other imprisoned campaigners are Asra al-Ghamgam from Qatif, Naeema al-Matroud from Saihat and Fatemeh Al Natif from al-Awamiyah.

Saudi Arabia has lately stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution, and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Saudi officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and oil-rich Eastern Province.

Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime. Security forces have increased security measures across the province.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to also target activism.

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.

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