Amnesty International has called on the Saudi Arabian authorities to reverse the ban on peaceful protest in the Kingdom, amid fears of a violent crackdown on mass demonstrations planned for Friday's “Day of Rage”.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the country’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday that “reform cannot be achieved through protests”, while the protest ban, confirmed on Saturday, was backed by religious and security bodies.
"Instead of banning peaceful protests the Saudi Arabian authorities should address the need for major human rights reform in the country," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“They must heed the growing calls for change within Saudi Arabia”.
Saudi Arabia's "Day of Rage" was organized online using Facebook. One page has over 33,000 followers.
Media reports over the weekend suggested that some 10,000 Saudi troops would be deployed to crack down on any protests.