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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

May 19, 2008

Ismaili activist jailed in Riyadh.

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have detained a leading Ismaili activist after he complained to the king over alleged rights abuses against the Shiite minority, a fellow activist said yesterday. Security police detained Ahmed Turki Al-Saab in Riyadh on Tuesday, days after he and five other Ismaili Shiites from the southern province of Najran handed to King Abdullah a 300-page report over alleged abuses by its governor, seeking to have him removed, said Mohammed Al-Askar. “They (security services) did not say why he was arrested without being charged,” he told Reuters.

Saab played a key role in issuing the report, Askar said. Najran, bordering Yemen, is a centre of the Ismailis, a Shiite sect which has long complained of victimisation by the prevailing school of Sunni Islam followed by the Saudi state. It was the scene of violent clashes in 2000, when hundreds of Ismailis clashed with police over plans to dilute their presence with Sunnis.

The Ismailis have said they had successfully petitioned King Abdullah two years ago to halt settlement of up to 10,000 Yemeni tribesmen outside Najran city. The Ismailis sent a protest letter in January to Najran governor Prince Mishaal bin Saud, complaining of marginalisation and demanding an end to plans to settle another Yemeni tribe. The report that was presented to the king, which was signed by 77 Najran citizens, carried the same grievances.

This incident just underscores in my mind the vast gulf between the King's rhetoric about reform and the facts on the ground. I wonder whether the King's authority really extends beyond the sphere of oil policy. What use a king without a strong hand?

via John.


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About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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