The PJ Tatler

Saudi 'Day of Rage' tomorrow a fizzle?

According to the J-burg Times in South Africa, activists are very concerned that the demonstrations tomorrow will be a bust:

Despite the financial handout and signs that the government may be subtly trying to win over frustrated youth, Mohammed told the German Press Agency dpa that he will not protest, because he believes the government’s response will be heavy-handed.

“The government sees this as a direct threat to its rule and I will not risk everything to protest for a thing like ending corruption, for example, when they see me as a threat worthy of murder,” he said.

“I think most people feel they have too much to lose in a highly rigged fight,” he added.

The Interior Ministry posted on its website that “security forces are lawfully authorized to take all necessary actions against whoever tries to violate the law in any way and will be subject to the full force of the relevant regulations.”

Sultan, a Saudi graduate student in the United States who also wished not to be named in full, told dpa he doubts there will be a large turnout in Friday’s protests because people are expecting the government to respond “harshly.”

“They already started to investigate bloggers, social and political activists, and some people who signed petitions addressed to the king,” said Sultan.

Recently, Saudi women who were protesting in the eastern part of the kingdom were arrested after a ban was issued on all kinds of demonstrations.

They were reportedly beaten before they were detained.

Last month, King Abdullah sought to head off the wave approaching his country when he granted a few meaningless reforms and earmarked $35 billion in housing assistance and walking around money for Saudi youth. But how long can he keep buying off a generation that is experiencing 40% unemployment with little or no prospects for meaningful work?

The reputation of Saudi police very well might keep the numbers down for tomorrow’s protests. But someday, it’s going to boil over in the Kingdom and the most corrupt, backward, and conservative of all the Gulf sheikdoms will either reform or die.