Two Shia Protesters Dead in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabian police have reportedly fired on Shiite protesters in at least two towns in the country’s Eastern Province, killing two and wounding two others. The demonstrations came as a reaction to the arrest of vocal Shiite activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who apparently suffered a gun shot wound to the thigh while being detained Sunday. The Interior Ministry released statements saying Nimr is being charged with instigating unrest, and that while they know shots were fired at protests, they deny reports of clashes with police. Hundreds took part in the demonstrations in Awamiya and Qatif, chanting ”Down, Down with the House of Saud” and “Death to al-Saud.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Princess Sara bint Talal bin Abdulaziz announced she is seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom over fears for her safety at home. The granddaughter of Saudi founder King Abdulaziz, she is the first senior member of the Saudi royal family to ever ask for asylum. In addition to allegations of a plot to kidnap her, Princess Sara says she has been subject to physical and mental abuse, has had her assets frozen, and is cut off from her inheritance. “I am a threat because I am a reformer from within. My way is the modern Islamic way,” she said.
Also, Una Galan writes how the Kingdom’s new mortgage law is the latest evidence of an acceleration of reforms in the country. Galan marks a shift since the Arab Spring that he says severs the long held correlation between oil prices and the pace of progress, and argues that country is now undertaking a strategy of spend and reform to tackle unemployment and discontent. The new mortgage law will lower borrowing costs and protect lenders, and could potentially boost home loans from 2% of GDP to over 30%.