Saudi activists push for political reform
Democracy activists in Saudi Arabia say the government is closely monitoring social media to nip in the bud any protests inspired by uprisings that swept Arab countries, toppling leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.
Activists have set up Facebook pages calling for protests on March 11 and 20, with more than 17,000 supporters combined, but police managed to stifle two attempts to hold protests in the Red Sea city of Jeddah last month, highlighting the difficulties of such mobilization in the conservative kingdom.
In one case, between 30 and 50 people were detained by police when they gathered on the street, witnesses said. In the second, security forces flooded the location of a protest advertised on Facebook, scaring off protesters.
“They are watching closely what people are saying on Facebook and Twitter,” said Saudi blogger Ahmed al-Omran. “Obviously they are anxious as they are surrounded with unrest and want to make sure we don’t catch the bug.” (Reuters)
Protests at Bahrain’s parliament
Bahrainis campaigning for democratic reforms in the Gulf Arab state staged a protest outside parliament, demanding that all its members resign over recent protester deaths.
“We came to this parliament to say that you represent the people and you represent us – take an honourable position over the killings by the army,” said Mirza al-Shihabi, one of around 500 protesters outside the building in central Manama on Monday. (Al Jazeera)
Looting reported amid Oman protests
Residents in the northeastern Omani city of Sohar have reportedly looted a supermarket damaged in protests, as demonstrations over economic woes carried on into a third day.
Security forces sealed off main roads to the city on Monday and hundreds of protesters reportedly stormed a police station, while protests spread throughout the city.
Sohar, a city about 200km northwest of the capital of Muscat, was the scene of protests over the weekend, as demonstrators demanded higher salaries, jobs for the unemployed and the removal of some government ministers. (Al Jazeera)
Another Tunisia minister quits
Mohamed Afif Chelbi, Tunisia’s industry and technology minister, has resigned from the government, the official TAP news agency has reported.
Chelbi, who resigned on Monday, was one of only two remaining ministers who had previously served in the cabinet under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
His departure leaves Mohamed Nouri Jouini, the minister for international co-operation, as the only survivor in the cabinet from the Ben Ali era. (Al Jazeera)