Calls grow on social media for Saudi jobs protest

Similar appeal was made before the Saudi government restored benefits to civil servants last weekend
By AFP
Thu 27 Apr 2017 02:39 PM

Calls have been growing on social media for Saudi Arabia's jobless to protest on Sunday, after a similar appeal before the government restored benefits to civil servants last weekend.

Demonstrations are banned in the conservative kingdom, and the previous calls for civic action led police to flood Riyadh on April 21.

Media access is also controlled, though Saudis are very active on social media including on Twitter, where many post anonymously with fabricated usernames.

Under the hashtag "Unemployed rally April 30", several Saudi Twitter users posted calls for demonstrations outside government employment offices on Sunday.

"Because of the April 21st movement, the benefits were returned, my brother citizen do not deprive yourself and come out on April 30, may God assist you to overcome your troubles," wrote one Twitter user under the name @Hussain_Khalid.

Another using the hashtag wrote "we are only looking for jobs," while another posted: "We're not Daesh, we're not with Iran, all we want is to be employed, nothing else."

The comment referred to Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran and the jihadist Islamic State group, known by the Arabic acronym Daesh.

A post from another user accused the government of spending money on projects abroad while it is "in deficit to the people" at home.

The new campaign appeared modelled on a similar movement on social media that had called for demonstrations last Friday over a range of political and economic issues.

There were no signs of major demonstrations on Friday and the Sabq online newspaper, which is close to authorities, reported that the day had passed quietly with no protests.

But on Saturday King Salman announced an end to austerity measures that Saudi authorities had imposed in September - including a freeze on salaries and limited benefits for civil servants - as part of austerity measures following a collapse in global oil prices since 2014.

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