Tue Feb 21, 2012
Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has defended the regime forces’ ruthless repression of anti-government protests and threatened to use an “iron fist” against protesters.
“It is the state’s right to confront those that confront it first… and the Saudi Arabian security forces will confront such situations … with determination and force and with an iron first,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
An interior ministry spokesman said the statement was released in reaction to a last week sermon delivered in the Qatif region in the Eastern Province, which took a swipe at the Saudi government’s handling of the protests.
Saudi authorities claim that the regime does not practice discrimination against the Shia minority, pointing a finger of blame at protesters.
Earlier on Thursday, several anti-regime protesters in the kingdom’s eastern province of Safwa were abducted.
Since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the oil-rich Eastern Province, mainly in Qatif and the town of Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
Saudi protesters also want an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region. Several demonstrators have been killed and scores of activists have been arrested since the beginning of protests in the region.
Riyadh has intensified its crackdown on protesters since the beginning of 2012.