Saudi pro-democracy group plans first sit-in

December 11, 2010 00:05

CAIRO— A Saudi pro-democracy group is planning the kingdom's first sit-in protest this month to demand radical political reforms, a constitution and elections, its leaders said Friday.

The gathering is unlikely to be approved as public protests are almost unheard of in Saudi Arabia, partly because the government actively prevents them.

Mohammad Alqahtani, the head of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, said the group has asked the Interior Ministry for permission to hold a peaceful sit-in on Dec. 23 in the capital, Riyadh.

"We want to express our opinions and make our demands in a peaceful and civilized way," Alqahtani, a professor of economics, said over the telephone from Riyadh.

He said the group will go on with its plan even if a permission is denied. "We are citizens but with no rights whatsoever," Alqahtani added.

The group's demands include curtailing privileges of members of the Saudi royal family, fighting corruption and nepotism, and creating an independent judiciary.

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