The salient point in Saudi Arabia, however, is not really ethnic discrimination, which exists throughout the world. It is the story of the avarice and brutality through which one extended family dominates a country.
In Libya, the uprising was dominated by a distinct tribal opposition, yet it was quickly characterized as representing broad national sentiment, with a kind of nobility and inevitability. Not so (up to now) with reporting on the Saudi protests. In truth, dissatisfaction with the Saudi royal family is hardly limited to the Shiites, and the levels of anger are probably as great and perhaps greater than that felt by the average Libyan toward Qaddafi.
Those wanting a closer look at what is going on in Saudi Arabia can go to the site Liveleak, where there's highly disturbing video accompanied by this text: "Qatif -- Firing live bullets at the demonstrators November 21, 2011: Video shows the brutal style Saudi security forces in dealing with the demonstrators by firing live bullets." Another source is a blog called "Angry Arab News Service," which features video in which a large and vocal group in Qatif are apparently chanting "Death to the House of Saud":
"That kind of material seems to warrant worldwide attention. And with that, we might reasonably expect the protests to grow. But the coverage has not come, nor the greater uprising."
New York Times
Who's to blame? Everyone, really. But based on its claim to be the gold standard, we focus on the New York Times. According to a search of the database Nexis-Lexis, the Times ran nothing at all on Qatif until Sunday November 27, when it featured a survey of turmoil throughout the region. A reference to Qatif was buried deep toward the end of the piece , where it would go almost unnoticed.
Yet the Times should have realized that it was looking at a pattern. After all, the paper did cover a previous incident in Qatif -- back in March. It was a single article, with a Beirut dateline.
"Saudi police officers opened fire at a protest march in a restive, oil-rich province on Thursday, wounding at least three people, according to witnesses and a Saudi government official.
"Witnesses described the small protest march in the eastern city of Qatif as peaceful, but an Interior Ministry spokesman said demonstrators had attacked the police before the officers began firing, Reuters reported.
"The clash with protesters in Qatif, located in a heavily Shiite region, underscored longstanding tensions in Saudi society: there is a sense among the Shiite minority that it is discriminated against by a government practicing a zealous form of Sunni orthodoxy."
No emphasis on the self-dealing, greed and barbarity that characterize the Saudi dictatorship. Ironically, that was when demonstrations in Libya were all over the news, with constant emphasis on Qaddafi's infamy. Here are some New York Times headlines from Libya in the Spring:
Time's Up, Qaddafi (an opinion piece)