Hundreds of Saudi anti-government protesters have poured into the streets in the eastern city of al-Qatif, demanding the release of thousands political prisoners.
The demonstrators also shouted slogans against the ruling regime.ÂA similar anti-government protest rally was held in the city of al-Awamiyah on Thursday night in which demonstrators condemned the detention of cleric Tawfiq al-Ammer and called for his immediate release.Â
Al-Ammer, who is known by his followers as the most prominent advocate of civil rights and freedom in the eastern region of the Arab kingdom, was recently arrested after he called for reforms during a speech at a local mosque.Â
His arrest has triggered protests in the oil-rich east.Â
Saudis in the eastern province plan to take to the streets again later on Friday. Reports say Saudi security forces have surrounded a mosque and several areas in al-Qatif.Â
Saudi Arabia’s east has been the scene of anti-government protests over the past months.Â
Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.Â
According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subject to both physical and mental torture.Â