Hafar al-Baten Citizens Protest Poor Municipal Services

Dozens of citizens gathered outside the municipality building Tuesday in Hafar al-Baten to protest the poor and slow services provided by the municipality in this town in eastern Saudi Arabia, al-Hayat daily reported. Videos uploaded to YouTube showed the head of municipality Mohammed al-Shaia, surrounded by police officers, walking in the direction of protesters who chanted: “We don’t want you! We don’t want you!” Al-Shaia quickly turned his back to the protesters and walked away.

Protesters told the newspaper that their demonstration comes after several complaints to officials about the performance of the municipality chief, who did not respond to requests for comment by the newspaper. A spokesman for the Eastern Province mayoralty told al-Hayat he is unaware of the situation.

Protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia, but recent months have witnessed several protests by families of detainees, unemployed teachers and university students. More frequent protests have been taking place in the the eastern town of Qatif, where the Shia minority demand an end to discrimination and the release of political prisoners. The government says it does not discriminate against the Shia citizens.