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Unrest Continues in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain

Protests, government crackdown continue in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/10/2011, 6:37 PM / Last Update: 4/10/2011, 7:04 PM

Gulf states are facing renewed protest from their religious minorities. In Saudi Arabia, Shiite Mulims protested Friday and called to release Shiite demonstrators from prison and give Shiites more rights.

Protesters also called for the withdrawal of Saudi troops from neighboring Bahrain. Saudi Arabia has been assisting Bahrain in putting down its own Shiite protests.

Similar protests have been held over the past several weeks. The government recently announced a crackdown, stating that all marches and protests are prohibited, and that demonstrations are a violation of Muslim law and of Saudi tradition.

However, while Saudi security forces were present at Friday's demonstrations, they did not intervene, activists reported.

Bahrain: Activist Missing, Protesters Dead
In Bahrain, relatives of a Shiite human rights advocate have accused the police of showing up at his home in the middle of the night, beating him, and taking him away. The man, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, remains missing. Al-Khawaja was once a coordinator for the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Front Line.

Al-Khawaja is considered to be “at high risk of torture,” Front Line said in a statement published on its website. “Front Line is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja... Front Line believes that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's arrest and detention is directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defense of human rights,” the group added.

Doctors Without Borders has accused Bahraini forces of raiding hospitals and clinics in order to arrest Shiite protesters.

Two Shiite Muslim men who took part in earlier protests have died in prison. Bahraini officials stated that one man died of sickle cell disease, while the other died of injuries sustained while resisting prison guards. The former man had been accused of inciting anti-government hatred and calling for an overthrow of the government, while the second had been charged with attempting to run over policemen.

Shiite protests have been largely ended by a Bahraini government crackdown aided by Saudi Arabian troops. The kingdom has since imposed limits on Lebanese tourists, and according to reports, has destroyed the famous Pearl Roundabout where protests were held in order to rid the country of “bad memories.”