Shia village simmers amid Saudi crackdown

Financial Times reports: A month after Saudi Arabia executed firebrand Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, his home town of Awamiya remains strewn with black flags commemorating his death.

The authorities have dubbed the dilapidated village in the oil-rich eastern province the most dangerous place in the conservative Sunni kingdom, and it bears the scars of confronting the state. Shia slogans are ubiquitous and some buildings are pockmarked with bullet holes. Two armoured personnel carriers stand sentry outside the local security post but the jittery police rarely patrol the streets.

“The people and the government are both waiting, ready to pounce,” said Mohammed al-Nimr, Sheikh Nimr’s brother. “There is only pessimism here now.”

The execution of Sheikh Nimr caused an uproar in Shia Iran and has prompted concerns that unrest within Saudi Arabia’s minority Shia, which claim to be the victim of decades of discrimination by the ruling al-Saud family, could become another front in the worsening regional cold war between Riyadh and Tehran. [Continue reading…]

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