161 Saudi Protesters Arrested in Buraida

Saudi security forces arrested 161 persons, including 15 women and six children, for staging a protest outside the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) in Buraida, the provincial capital of the central region of Qassim, the state news agency reported. A spokesman for Qassim Police said the protesters were arrested the protesters in the early hours of Friday after the police failed to convince them to end their sit-in that lasted for more than 12 hours.

Protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that practices a strict interpretation of Islam. The government spokesman described the sit-in outside the BIP office as “an attempt to incite public opinion by taking advantage of those who have been convicted and accused of terrorism-related crimes and activities.”

A group of women and children have organized a small sit-in in Buraida on Monday to demand the release of their detained relatives. During the sit-in, protesters have reportedly burned pictures of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif and asked for his resignation. After spending the night on the street, protesters were arrested the next day by security forces. The protest outside the BIP office Thursday was staged to demand the release of those women and children.