A "Saudi Spring?": The Shi'a Protest Movement in the Eastern Province 2011–2012
Abstract:Since 2011, Saudi Arabia experienced the largest and longest protest movement in its modern history. This article outlines how small protests inspired by the socalled "Arab Spring" and in solidarity with the uprising in neighboring Bahrain developed into a sustained youth protest movement with its own particular demands and frames of references. At the local level, the article shows how the emergence of this protest movement affected the political and social dynamics within the Saudi Shi'a community. The government reacted with repression and an anti-Shi'a sectarian rhetoric that ensured that the "Saudi Spring" in the Eastern Province failed to spill over to the rest of the country. The case study of the Eastern Province protest movement in 2011 and 2012 shows that, while new media are good organizational tools for protesters, personal networks, a semi-autonomous public sphere, and histories of political subversion facilitate a protest movement.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 2012
The Middle East Institute has published The Middle East Journal quarterly since 1947. The Journal provides original and objective research and analysis, as well as source material, on the area from Morocco to Pakistan and including Central Asia. The Journal provides the background necessary for an understanding and appreciation of the region's political and economic development, cultural heritage, ethnic and religious diversity.
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