JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – A prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric who was wanted by the police was detained in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on Sunday over calls for more rights for the minority Muslim sect in the Sunni monarchy, his brother and an activist said.
Early reports of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s arrest, which spread online on Sunday, prompted demonstrations in the village of Awamiya where Shi’ites have clashed with security forces several times since early last year, said Tawfiq al-Seif, a Shi’ite community leader.
Activists from the Eastern Province, where most of Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ites live, posted pictures on the Internet of the grey-bearded Sheikh Nimr in a vehicle covered with what appeared to be a blood-stained white blanket.
An Interior Ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment after several attempts by Reuters.
Sheikh Nimr’s brother said the cleric was detained by police while driving from a farm to his house in al-Qatif.