Rare display of dissent in the kingdom as university students boycott classes to protest against poor services
Thousands of students at an all-female university in Saudi Arabia boycotted classes at the weekend to protest against poor services, witnesses said, in a rare display of dissent from women in the Islamic kingdom. Students said security forces had broken up an earlier protest at King Khalid university on Wednesday, leaving dozens injured. The protests erupted when the university cancelled cleaning services, saying students needed to take better care of their campus. One student said the protests were triggered by “the accumulation of rubbish and the mistreatment of the students”.
Video footage posted on YouTube appeared to show about 200 students at the affiliated all-male King Khalid University also holding a protest against poor services and calling for the removal of the university’s president.
Abdel Karim al-Hunaini, deputy governor of Aseer province, said he thought the students at both establishments had a right to protest and local authorities would set up a committee to address their demands.
Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in education to deal with high youth unemployment. The country’s 70% population of 19 million is under 30.
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