Shia Protest in Qatif Friday

Following Wednesday’s events, demonstrators in several towns of Qatif took to the street after Friday prayers to protest, videos uploaded to YouTube earlier today show. In one video reportedly taken in the town of Safwa, protesters can be heard chanting slogans such as “death to Al Saud.”

Eastern Province police spokesman Ziad al-Rukayti said today that one person was killed and another wounded when their car was attacked by gunmen near Awwamiya cemetery Wednesday night, according to al-Riyadh newspaper. This probably explains earlier reports that three or four people were killed when the interior ministry announced the manhunt to arrest wanted activist Khaled al-Labad which resulted in his death with another person.

Al-Watan cited a person they described as a ”security source” who said al-Labad was a criminal who suffered from a “behavioral perversion shown on his body that is full of tattoos.” The source also accused al-Labad of using motorcycles to carry on gun attacks against security forces.

Al-Labad was one of 23 wanted persons on a list announced by the interior ministry in January. The newspaper said al-Labad’s death shrinks the list to 11 names only, after security forces arrested seven and four more turned themselves in.

When the news of al-Labad‘s death first came out, activists on Twitter started circulating this video which reportedly takes viewers inside his house. The poor condition of the house suggests that al-Labad and his family lived in poverty. Al-Labad appears at the end of the video to read a statement in which he rejects the interior ministry allegations against him.

Searching YouTube for protest videos today, I came across a similar video recorded at the house of another activist who is also on MOI’s wanted list. His name is Abdullah Al Suraih, and he can be seen in this YouTube video speaking during a protest.

In a video dated March 14, 2012, Al Suraih moves from one room to another in his home, explaining how the shabby house does not protect them from the heat of summer or the cold winds of winter. His mom also appears in the video and says both of her sons, Abdullah and his brother, are jobless. In a similar fashion to the previously mentioned video of al-Labad, Al Suraih can be seen reading a statement where he denies the allegations made against him by the interior ministry.

The Saudi Shia minority, who mostly hail from the oil-rich Eastern Province, complain that they have long been marginalized. The government say they do not discriminate against the Shia.

UPDATE 14:19 9/29/2012: Despite being on the interior ministry’s wanted list, Abdullah Al Suraih reportedly took part in one protest Friday where he spoke to the crowd. A video uploaded to YouTube is said to show Al Suraih talking about the death of his comrade Khaled al-Labad. “We were called by some clerics and notables, and they offered us some money,” he said as protesters around him shouted: death to traitors! “Khaled al-Labad was the first to refuse and leave the room.”

The 18-year-old Al Suraih described al-Labad as his right arm. Now that the latter was dead, “my right arm is broken,” said Al Suraih, breaking into tears between one sentence and another. “I am on my own now.” He also denied that he had anything to do with the death of Salman al-Bandari, who was found killed in a car Wednesday night. Some people on Twitter suggested that activists have killed al-Bandari because he was an informant who helped security forces find al-Labad and kill him.

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