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Entries in Waleed Abu Alkhair (3)


Saudi Arabia Feature: Dissent is Alive...On Social Media & Behind Closed Doors (Templin)

Every Tuesday night, a few dozen people squeeze into Waleed Abu Alkhair’s living room in the port city of Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Over tea and dates, they share opinions that could get them arrested if uttered in public. “If you ask people, they are afraid because they know the costs are very high,” says Abu Alkhair, a former civil rights lawyer and activist. “You can see this is a very small house, but we don’t have any other place.”

The topic jumps from religion to revolution. “We are not far away from the uprisings that are happening in other countries,” exclaims a young man wearing the traditional Saudi thobe. His statement ignites a debate about the state of free speech in Saudi Arabia, where thousands are behind bars for simply speaking out against the government. “We live in a prison,” one patron comments from a cramped love seat, “the cell has gotten a little bigger, but it’s still a prison.”

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Saudi Arabia Opinion: "The Era of Religious Guardianship is Over" (Abu Alkhair)

Waleed Abu AlkhairAt one of the salon gatherings, I had the pleasing epiphany that religious hard-liners have begun to lose control of a young generation that is hungry for freedom. A brave young man responded passionately to clerics whom I had naively invited to participate in the salon and who had threatened him for supporting freedom of expression and belief, saying: “Who are you? Who are you to inflict your religious guardianship upon us? We are free, free to say what we like. You are just like us, not better. The era of religious guardianship is over.”

There was a stunned silence.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: This is "Peace" --- Another 90 Die

Thursday night's protest rally in the Douma suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus

2200 GMT: We're closing yet another crazy Friday. Here's a summary.

In Bahrain, there were nine very large protests, most or all of which were attacked by police who used teargas to disperse the crowds. Though protests were planned, they were larger and more energetic today after the news that a man died last night from tear gas inhalation.

Some protesters destroyed closed-circuit TV cameras and threw rocks at police. Apparently, there was at least one occurrence of youth throwing Molotov cocktails.

This anger was sparked by what the activists consider widespread police brutality. Large parts of the island nation were covered in teargas again today, and riot vehicles reportedly chased down protesters in an attempt to run them over. There are also more unconfirmed reports of injured children, and another unconfirmed report that police sexually molested a young girl. Earlier in the week activists say that the police molested and tortured a 16-year-old boy, Ali.

At the end of the day, resolution to this conflict seems further away than it has ever been.

In Syria, the primary headline was arguably the use of helicopters to attack ground targets for the first time that we can confirm. There were several instances of this today and last night, all of them between Aleppo and the border with Turkey.

At nightfall, there are more reports of widespread fighting between FSA soldiers and the Assad military, specifically in Hama and to the east of Damascus.

The other noteworthy video was posted at 1544 GMT, showing an IED attack against Assad infantry in Hama.

However, once again the fact that will be lost to most headline writers is that there were large and widespread protests across the country, including in Damascus and Aleppo. Once again the Syrian opposition has used another Friday to prove that their resistance to the regime cannot be shot or shelled into submission.

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