Saudi Arabia: Saudi Kingdom bans demonstrations


JEDDAH, (Arab News): Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it would not allow any demonstrations or sit-in protests in the country that are aimed at undermining the Kingdom’s security and stability.

“Laws and regulations in the Kingdom totally prohibit all kinds of demonstrations, marches and sit-in protests as well as calling for them as they go against the principles of Shariah and Saudi customs and traditions,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said such demonstrations not only breach the Kingdom’s law and order but also encroach on the rights of others.

“They will also lead to spreading chaos and confusion in the country, causing bloodshed, breaching honor, pillaging wealth and destroying public and private properties,” the statement said.

The ministry said it had observed that some people wanted to circumvent the country’s rules and regulations to achieve their illegal objectives. It also referred to a statement issued two years ago banning all kinds of demonstrations.

A security spokesman, meanwhile, said the Saudi government has allowed all legitimate ways for people to express their views and interact with authorities to protect public interests. He said the security forces have been given the authority to adopt all precautionary measures to prevent those who want to undermine the country’s security and apply laws against them.

Sheikh Ali bin Abdul Rahman Al-Hudaifi, the imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, opposed demonstrations in the Kingdom. “There is no place for chaotic demonstrations in this country of monotheism because Shariah is the dominant force in this country,” he said while delivering his Juma sermon on Friday.

“There is a difference between the one who calls for monotheism and the one who calls for other ideologies; there is a difference between the one who works for the welfare of his people and the one who kills his people,” the imam explained. Speaking about anti-government protests in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Al-Hudaifi said: “People revolted against leaders of those countries because they did not apply the teachings of Islam in their dealings with the public. Un-Islamic laws cause corruption rather than reform. It’s Shariah that reforms everything.”

The imam also emphasized the importance of security for the progress of any country.

“Security is essential for people to enjoy peaceful and prosperous lives, prevent bloodshed, protect wealth, promote trade and ensure the protection of rights,” the imam said. He also warned against people who try to open the doors of sedition.

Many Saudis have commended the government’s efforts to enhance the progress and prosperity of its people. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah recently announced a number of welfare programs worth SR110 billion, including a 15 percent pay hike for public employees and a substantial increase in social insurance benefits for the poor. He also ordered the release of prisoners held for petty crimes. Prices of consumer goods in the Kingdom are comparatively lower than neighboring countries.