JEDDAH (Reuters) – Authorities in Saudi Arabia have detained two Shiâ€™ite bloggers this week for taking part in demonstrations in the countryâ€™s oil-producing Eastern Province, a Shiâ€™ite website and activists said on Wednesday.
The Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the worldâ€™s top oil exporter and major U.S. ally, does not tolerate any form of dissent. It has not seen the kind of mass uprisings other countries in the region have over the past few months.
But minority Shiâ€™ite Muslims in the Eastern Province, who have long complained of discrimination — a charge the government denies — have staged small demonstrations, which have led to some protesters being detained.
Shiâ€™ite website, www.rasid.com, said on Wednesday police had stormed the houses of Mustafa al-Mubarak, 26, and Hussein al-Hashem, 25, arrested them and confiscated their computers, The website also said a 58-year-old man named Samir Aldahim was also detained for taking part in the demonstrations.
A spokesperson for the Eastern Province police could not be reached for comment.
â€œThe series of arrests are still continuing today,â€ said one activist who declined to be named for fear of being detained.
â€œEven ordinary people have been detained for taking part in demonstrations. They are summoned while at work or taken from their homes,â€ he said.
A Human Rights Watch report issued this month said Saudi Arabia had arrested over 160 activists since February.
â€œIn this last week there were no less then 10 detentions, and they were all transferred to jail. Their families believe it is because they have participated in demonstrations,â€ the activist said.
(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Sophie Hares)