Saudi Police Shoot Shia Protesters
Saudi Arabian security forces opened fire on Shia protesters demonstrating Friday in city of Qatif in the latest round of unrest in the kingdom’s Eastern Province. The shots injured several of the hundreds marching in the streets for the release of prominent Shia detainees like cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry released a statement saying that security forces had arrested 23 people after responding to “rioters burning tires” and that there had been no causalities. According to witnesses, however, at least one of those arrested had to be taken to a hospital for shots to the neck and back.
Meanwhile, in light of the inclusion of the first women athletes in Saudi Arabia’s Olympic delegation, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both called on the kingdom to do more for women’s rights. Human Rights Watch condemned the lack of state sports infrastructure for women in Saudi Arabia, from state policies baring girls from playing sports in school to laws banning women from watching sports in stadiums. Amnesty International used the moment to draw attention to the recent Women2Drive campaign to life the ban on women drivers.
One of the two Saudi women competing, judo fighter Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, may not be allowed to compete, however, due to Olympic dress requirements. Shahrkhani wishes, and is required by the Saudi Olympic Committee, to wear a hijab but official judo regulations prohibit headgear. An official appeal has been filed to allow for an exception. Other Saudi requirements for female athletes include having a male guardian present at all times and a prohibition on socializing with men.