Saudi Arabia puts Shia Muslim poet behind bars

Saudi Arabia puts Shia Muslim poet behind bars
Tue Dec 24, 2013 13:40:34

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a Shia Muslim poet and journalist to one year in prison for being involved in anti-regime demonstrations in Eastern Province.

Habib al-Ma’atiq has been in prison for more than a year.

The exact charges against Ma’atiq remain unknown, but he was connected with a website that gave reports on anti-regime protests by in the country.

Ma’atiq was arrested in February 2012 at the office of the Al-Fajr Cultural Network website in Jubail city, according to the campaign group PEN International.

The court ruling against Ma’atiq comes as Saudi media reported on Monday that a Shia citizen was sentenced to 30 years in prison taking part in protests against Riyadh’s sending troops to Bahrain to help crack down on anti-Al Khalifa demonstrations.

The unnamed defendant was found guilty in connection with the protests in the Qatif region of Eastern Province.

Hundreds of people have been arrested and dozens remain in custody since the protests erupted in 2011, mainly in Qatif and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, where the majority of the kingdom’s Shia Muslims are concentrated.

Primarily the protesters were calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

However, the demonstrations turned into protests against Al Saud, especially after November 2011, when security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.


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