Unrest in Medina
By RANNIE AMIRI
The tragic events which occurred in Medina are sobering evidence of the grip that the Wahabi religious establishment has on Saudi society, its police, and judiciary. The wanton discrimination and violence which continues to be meted out against Saudi Shia citizens make the reforms of King Abdullah—no matter how well intentioned—appear empty and hollow. Saudi columnist Najib al-Khonaizi remarked, "There's a feeling that the Shiites' ambitions have not been realized as hoped, and that could have played an indirect role in inflaming emotions. We have to admit that there's tension in the Shiite street."
As a result of the clashes, arrests and killings in Medina, there are now reports of protests breaking out in the Eastern Province with demands for increased freedom of expression and equal rights becoming more vocal. As reported by the Associated Press, demonstrators were even seen carrying banners reading “down with the government” and spray painting anti-government slogans on billboards—all unheard of in the tightly controlled nation.
It may very well be that spreading anger over the harassment and violence directed against Shias in Medina—insultingly juxtaposed against King Abdullah’s purported reforms—will become the real nidus and driving force behind meaningful change in the Kingdom.
Until then, it will be Saudi Arabia’s Shia Muslims who will point to King Abdullah and the litany of his reforms and remind everyone that truly, “the emperor has no robes.”"