Saudi Shi'ite clerics call for an end to protests

April 21, 2011 23:21

DUBAI - Leading Saudi Shi'ite clerics called on Thursday for protesters to end two months of demonstrations in the kingdom's oil-producing Eastern Province, in an apparent bowing to government demands.

In at least two eastern towns, however, young Shi'ites ignored the call and took to the streets again to demand the release of prisoners and political reforms, activists said.

Inspired by Arab uprisings in Egypt or Tunisia, Saudi Shi'ites have been staging small protests in the Eastern Province, defying a demonstration ban and government pressure.

The Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and major US ally, does not tolerate any form of public dissent and the kingdom has not seen the mass uprisings seen in other countries in the region.

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