Saudi activists – who are they and what do they want?

Madawi Al-Rasheed writes: Fearing a domino effect from the Arab uprisings in 2011, the Saudi regime adopted multiple strategies to stifle dissent in the kingdom.

First it started using oil wealth to distribute millions of dollars in benefits, job opportunities and other welfare services. Then followed repression, leading to hundreds of peaceful activists for change being rounded up and put in prison. Some were flogged, others executed; many still face the death penalty.

By 2014 new anti-terrorism laws and royal decrees had criminalized practically all forms of dissent, including demonstrations, civil disobedience, criticizing the king or communicating with foreign media without government authorization.

Yet these measures have failed to mute a wide range of activists.

Under stifling conditions, activism has moved to the virtual world, taking advantage of the tremendous proliferation of social media in the kingdom. [Continue reading…]

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