Inspired by the "Arab Spring": Saudi Arabia's Volatile Shiite Minority

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Yoel Guzansky - The eastern province of Saudi Arabia, home to the kingdom's Shiite minority, has seen protests since July, sparked by the arrest and injury of Nemer al-Nemer, a popular Shiite cleric. Nemer was known for his outspoken anti-royal family remarks; he called for toppling the House of Saud and for independence for the eastern province. He also apparently instructed his followers to celebrate the death of Crown Prince Nayef in June. The Saudi Wahhabi sect questions the Shiites' Muslim legitimacy and Arab ancestry. Al-Alam, Iran's Arabic-language TV station - highly popular among Saudi Shiites - repeatedly calls for demonstrations, underscoring the Saudi fear about Iran's intent to upset the kingdom's stability. In reality, the Shiites in Saudi Arabia, numbering about 2 million (10% of the population), were never close to threatening the kingdom's stability, and most are far from identifying ideologically with the Iranian religious establishment.

2012-10-17 00:00:00

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