Saudi Arabian security forces have arrested a number of Shia Muslim women in the courtyard of Masjid al-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque) in the holy city of Medina.
The Shia women were praising Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his household on Friday morning when the mosqueâ€™s guards detained them and confiscated their religious books, which are banned in the kingdom, the Arabic-language Saar news website reported.
On August 14, at the emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the holy city of Mecca, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia called for the establishment of a center in Riyadh to promote dialogue between members of the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence in order to strengthen Muslim unity.
However, Fridayâ€™s arrests show that the Saudi Arabian government has still not granted its Shia citizens freedom of religious expression.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime â€œroutinely represses expression critical of the government.â€
On August 13, Swedish Defense Minister Karin Enstrom criticized Saudi Arabia for its human rights violations, describing the kingdom as “an authoritarian regime and an absolute monarchy, where serious human rights crimes are committed.”
Since February 2011, protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah in the Eastern Province, to call for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination against Shias.