Last updated: 9 March, 2012

Saudi police break up protest at women’s campus

Saudi authorities have ordered a probe after more than 50 women students were hurt when security forces dispersed a campus protest this week, media and a local official said on Friday.

On Wednesday members of the religious police and law enforcement officers used water cannons to break up a sit-in by women students at the Abha University in the south of Saudi Arabia, the Sebaq news website reported.

The students had staged a sit-in to protest against what they said was a pile-up or rubbish on the campus and a break down in hygienic conditions, Sebaq said.

The religious police, in a statement carried by the Al-Watan newspaper, confirmed that it had intervened at the university but denied that its men had attacked the women.

The university meanwhile issued a statement saying it had asked police to intervene on Wednesday after “female students gathered on the campus and began shouting in a way that contradicts” campus regulations.

It also accused one of the students’ parents of having triggered the problem by sacking a refuse collectors, which caused the rubbish to pile up.

The sexes are strictly segregated outside the home in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.

Prince Faisal bin Khaled, emir of the Assir region where Abha University is located, has ordered an investigation into the incident, media reported.