Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Probe sought in police shooting of Saudi journalist

5 March 2014

Saudi Arabia should allow for an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the police shooting of a Saudi photographer last month, the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said.

Hussein Ali Madan Al-Faraj, known for documenting anti-government protests and the funerals of slain protesters, was killed by police in the eastern Saudi governorate of Al-Qatif on Feb. 20.

Al-Faraj was killed when police stormed a home in the town of Al-Awamiyah with the intention of rooting out government opponents in a Shi’a area of the country that has long chafed under the kingdom’s Sunni rulers. The owner of the house, Ahmed Abdelrahim Al-Faraj, reportedly had a relative connected to anti-government protests.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman saying that the police came under fire, forcing them to return fire after two policemen were killed.

An initial report from the state-run news service also called Al-Faraj a wanted man.

Neighbors have disputed the police account, saying that there was no exchange of fire and that 30 armed policemen surrounded the neighborhood with armored vehicles before storming Abdelrahim Al-Faraj’s home killing, Abdelrahim’s son as well as the photographer, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Hussein Al-Faraj was covering the raid with his camera when he was fired upon by the police, according to witnesses cited by the France-based press group. He was visibly unarmed and the police were the only ones to fire at the scene. A separate account by Reuters said that Al-Faraj was inside the house during the police raid.

At least 21 people have been killed in the region since early 2011, when Shi’as turned out to protest the use of Saudi forces to quell Shi’a demonstrations in neighboring Qatar, according to Reuters.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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