MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - January 6, 2002:
Saudi Arabia is downplaying reports of widespead rioting last month but
diplomatic sources said the nation was rocked by the worst Islamic unrest in
The Saudi government as well as Western diplomatic sources have confirmed
reports of massive riots by fundamentalists who attacked foreigners and
The fundamentalists destroyed property and even voiced calls against the
regime for what they asserted was its refusal to abide by Islamic
A diplomatic source said the riot in Jedda was assessed to have been aimed
directly at the regime. Several leading members of the royal family were in
the port city during the Muslim holiday when several thousand
fundamentalists took to the street.
"The riot was organized and came within one step of being an actual attack
on the royal family," the source said. "The family was in complete panic."
In Jedda, fundamentalists attacked women and families along the beach as
well as on the main thoroughfare. The militants also blocked traffic,
smashed windows and cars, including that of a police vehicle.
Police were unable to stop the violence. The sources said most of the
militants escaped when security forces arrived.
Two Saudi princes were among the 300 people arrested, the sources said. They
said Saudi police had refused to arrest the princes until they were ordered
to by senior commanders.
The worst rioting took place in Jedda during last month's Id El Fitr
holiday. But other cities, including Dammam, were also sources of unrest.
Diplomatic sources said the fundamentalist violence – linked to Osama Bin
Laden – has alarmed the regime. Saudi officials and newspapers have
confirmed the riots, but attributed them to unidentified young people.
"This is the second year in a row that young men have been the cause of
trouble during Id," Raid Qusti reported in the Riyad-based Arab News. "Have
authorities and officials done anything about it since last year? Were
measures taken this year to prevent such things from happening again? No.
Not a thing was done."
In Kharj, a Saudi police officer was shot dead in broad daylight on Dec. 29.
A suspect has been arrested, but Saudi authorities would not disclose the
motive of the killing. Saudi sources said the motive appeared political.
In Dammam, a city with a large foreign community, Islamic militants stopped
cars and assaulted the women or foreigners inside. Islamic fundamentalists
have opposed women driving by themselves without first-degree male relatives
serving as escorts.
Please sign the petition to prevent a rash military response to the events of 11
<i>"We shall not, once more, be afraid of letting truth loose for fear of its
causing havoc. We shall be ready to say in our turn: 'I am not come to send
peace on earth, but a sword.'"
-Rev. Charles Gore (Christian Social Union)
from "The Social Doctrine of the Sermon
on the Mount."
For more information about Christian Socialism, please visit the Christian
Socialist home page: www.christiansocialist.org