Civil rights groups want to ensure the country is held to account for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its jailing of religious scholars and human rights activists.
A coalition of civil society groups took to the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles to protest Riyadh’s human rights abuses, including the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the imprisonment of religious and civil society activists.
Sunday’s event was organised by the local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), The Muslim American Society Public Affairs & Civil Engagement Committee (MAS-PACE), and Code Pink, among other groups.
The organisers hope they can keep up the pressure on US officials who have so far been reluctant to act against Saudi Arabia.
While the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, the Trump administration has been reluctant to take action against him or the country at large.
On the contrary, US President Donald Trump has praised MBS for doing a ‘spectacular job’ during the recent G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.
“It is morally disgraceful that a nation considered a long-time ally of the United States would engage in human rights abuses, including curtailing freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and political dissent,” said CAIR-LA’s Executive Director Hussam Ayloush.
“It is imperative that our government stands against these abuses of international freedoms,” he added.
'Denial of basic fundamental rights'
The killing of Khashoggi came amid a broad crackdown by MBS on both religious and civil society figures.
Dozens of prominent activists, including women's rights activists, human rights defenders, and religious scholars have been caught up in a campaign to stamp out dissent.
They include Muslim scholars; Salman al Odah, Awad al Qarni, and Ali al Omari, who all reportedly face the death penalty.
“(These) scholars... are amongst many individuals who are currently imprisoned without a trial with possibility of facing execution. The gross abuse of power and denial of basic fundamental rights to life and liberty cannot be ignored,” said local MAS-PACE director Yasmeen Azam, adding:
“The coalition calls for the Trump Administration to respect and stand boldly for the freedom of political expression.”
While the Trump administration has not been eager to punish Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi killing, many media outlets and politicians continue to keep the issue alive.
Lawmakers from across the aisle have been lobbying to punish Riyadh over the murder, as well as the war in Yemen, where Saudi forces have been fighting Houthi rebels with US help since 2015.
In February, the House of Representatives voted to halt US aid for the Saudi war effort, followed by the Senate in March.
The Trump administration is using emergency powers to circumvent Congress and continue supplying the Saudis with arms.