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Protests in Saudi Arabia

Defying government and religious bans on protests, demonstrators in Saudi Arabia have rallied around a variety of causes. Chief among them are demands for an elected national leadership, more women's rights and the release of political prisoners. Some rallies were held as a show of solidarity with protesters in other Arab countries.

Protests across the Arab world: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Shiite protesters hold Saudi flags and portraits of unidentified Saudi Shiite prisoners during a demonstration in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Defying government and religious bans on protests, demonstrators in Saudi Arabia have rallied around a variety of causes. Chief among them are demands for an elected national leadership, more women's rights and the release of political prisoners. Some rallies were held as a show of solidarity with protesters in other Arab countries.

The protests in Saudi Arabia take place against the backdrop of an absolute monarchy, in which King Abdullah and senior princes function as the supreme decision makers. The king serves as both head of state and head of government, appointing ministers as well as all members of the kingdom’s legislative body, which fulfills a largely consultative function. The kingdom’s constitution and legal system are both based on Islamic sharia law. The monarchy is hereditary.

VOA reports

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