For years, Saudi Shiites in the oil rich Eastern region have protested for more rights. Now, in the light of the Arab Spring and regional polarization, they have more hope. Last weekend, the Saudi security forces met Shiite protesters with live rounds of fire, killing two young men, both 21, and injuring dozens.
The Arab Digest reported yesterday the mass funeral of Zuhair Saiid, one of the dead protesters. You could find above a photo of Munir Medani's funeral (More here, graphic). The Saudi forces have reportedly stormed into a clinic in Awameya, Eastern Saudi Arabia, where protesters were shot; they assaulted the medical staff there.
More protests are expected after the funerals of the two young men. Shiites constitute 15% of Saudi Arabia's total population, but they are considered "heretics" by the state's religious institutions; they are denied development, and equal opportunities in government. While Iran is usually blamed for any unrest among Saudi Shiites, their demands for equal rights out-date the Islamic revolution in Iran.
On the other hand, there are many ties between Saudi Shiites and Bahrain's Shiite population; it was widely expected that last year's Saudi repression of demonstrations in Bahrain will lead to unrest in Eastern Saudi Arabia.
(A poster calling for a demonstration on Friday in Eastern Saudi Arabia)