Hundreds back Facebook call for Saudi protest
DUBAI (Reuters) - Hundreds of people have backed a Facebook campaign calling for a "day of rage" across Saudi Arabia next month to demand an elected ruler, greater freedom for women and release of political prisoners.
The page called for a "revolution of yearning" on March 11 in the kingdom, the world's biggest oil exporter and which is ruled by an absolute monarchy.
More than 460 people had endorsed the page by Wednesday morning, but it was impossible to verify how many of them were inside Saudi Arabia or whether any protest would materialise.
Arab uprisings which overthrew leaders in Tunisia and Egypt were mobilised by youths using social media, but activists in Saudi Arabia say a recent Internet call for a demonstration in Riyadh failed to bring anyone onto the streets.
A protest last month in Jeddah after floods swept through Saudi Arabia's second-biggest city was quickly broken up.
The demands included "that the ruler and members of the Shura (Consultative) Council be elected by the people" as well as calls for an independent judiciary, release of political prisoners and the right of freedom of expression and assembly.
They also sought a minimum wage of 10,000 riyals ($2,700), greater employment opportunities, establishing a watchdog to eliminate corruption and cancellation of "unjustified taxes and fees".
Other requests included rebuilding the armed forces, reforming Saudi Arabia's powerful and conservative Sunni Muslim clerics, and "the abolition of all illegal restrictions on women" in the kingdom.
Despite its oil wealth, Saudi Arabia is grappling with unemployment that hit 10.5 percent in 2009. It offers its 18 million nationals social benefits but they are considered less generous than those provided by other Gulf Arab oil producers.
Saudi state television said King Abdullah, returning home on Wednesday after months of absence for medical treatment, would grant benefits to Saudis worth billions of riyals.
The measures did not include political reforms in the absolute monarchy such as fresh municipal elections demanded by liberals or opposition groups. The kingdom has no elected parliament and does not tolerate public dissent.
(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by David Stamp)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
- Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast - source
- UPDATE 3-U.S. Senate intelligence chief accuses CIA of spying on Senate
- Freescale loss in Malaysia tragedy leads to travel policy questions
- UPDATE 3-Libyan navy attacks ship carrying oil from rebel port; PM sacked
- Maoists kill 16 in attack on police
MISSING MALAYSIAN PLANE
Malaysia's military believes a jetliner missing for almost four days turned and flew hundreds of kilometres to the west after it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country's east coast, a senior officer told Reuters on Tuesday. Full Article | Slideshow
Militant Islamist website calls for attacks on France and Hollande - SITE. Full Article
U.S. lawmakers urge Pentagon to allow Sikhs leeway in military attire. Full Article
N.Korea using sophisticated means to avoid U.N. sanctions - U.N. report. Full Article