Saudi king removes governor following complaints on discrimination
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has removed the prince of a remote governorate that has seen violent clashes between police and minority Shi'ites complaining of discrimination, state media said on Wednesday.
"In response to the Interior Minister's report that Prince Mishaal, governor of Najran, wants to be removed from his post a decree has been issued relieving him," the royal decree said, according to Reuters.
The area was the scene of violent clashes in 2000, when hundreds of Ismailis, who are a majority in Najran, clashed with police. They complained that Prince Mishaal was promoting policies discriminating against them. Over the past year Ismaili leaders have lobbied King Abdullah to stop local plans to settle Sunni Yemenis in order to change the demographic balance.
In May, the Interior Ministry detained a vocal Ismaili leader who had suggested in a letter to the king that there could be more social unrest in Najran if action was not taken.
"The king has answered our calls for change and this is just the beginning. Najran has been celebrating since last night, firing guns in air and dancing in streets," said Mohammed al-Askar, a leading Ismaili activist.