World Bulletin/News Desk
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on Wednesday sacked Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja, minister of culture and information, one day after the latter ordered the closure of a private satellite channel known for criticizing Shiites.
Abdullah issued a royal decree relieving Khoja of his ministerial duties – "in accordance with his [Khoja's] own wishes" – and appointing Pilgrimage Affairs Minister Bandar Haggar as acting culture and information minister, Saudi Arabia's official news agency reported.
One day earlier, Khoja had announced via Twitter that he had banned the Wesal satellite channel from broadcasting inside Saudi Arabia, saying his ministry would "deal firmly" with anyone who tried to "sow strife" in the kingdom.
The decision to ban the television channel came one day after an attack by unknown assailants in the eastern Al-Ahsa region left five Saudi Shiites dead and nine injured.
According to the Saudi authorities, 15 people have been arrested for suspected involvement in the attack.
On Tuesday, two Saudi policemen and two militants suspected of involvement in the attack were killed in a shootout in the eastern town of Buraida.
Khoja, a long-serving diplomat, was appointed culture and information minister in February 2009.
Al-Ahsa is a region in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, where the kingdom's Shiite community is largely concentrated.
Shiites – estimated at some 10 percent of Saudi Arabia's 20-million-strong population according to local media reports – have long accused the authorities of discriminating against them, especially in terms of government and military appointments.Last Mod: 05 Kasım 2014, 15:26