LA Times – A call for protests in Saudi Arabia that had been talked about for weeks drew only a handful of people Friday, allowing the kingdom to keep at bay for now the waves of political unrest that have battered the Middle East and North Africa.
In the end, the “day of rage,” organized on Facebook and by word of mouth, fizzled. No protests occurred in any Saudi cities except for a small demonstration in Al-Ahsa in restive Eastern province, said Maj. Gen. Mansour Turki of the Interior Ministry. Turki said he did not know if any arrests were made in connection with the Al-Ahsa protest. Human-rights activists did not return phone calls seeking comment on the events.
The near total absence of protesters also proved the efficacy of the Saudi government’s relentlessly stern response to the call for demonstrations. Over the last week, the government had gathered clerics, the media, the foreign minister and Interior Ministry to assert that protests are banned and anti-Islamic, which human-rights activists deny.