Alternate History

Ramadan Revolution (This is the Dream)

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Ramadan Revolution
Part of the Arab Cold War
Large Group on the Hajj (2003)Demonstrators converge on Riyadh city centre on 14 November 2001
Date 7 October 2001 – 25 November 2001

(1 month, 2 weeks and 5 days)

Location Saudi Arabia
  • Political repression
  • Police brutality
  • Government corruption
  • Economic stagnation
  • Unemployment
  • Food price rises
  • Low wages
  • Civil disobedience
  • Civil resistance
  • Demonstrations
  • Riots
  • Self-immolation
  • Strike actions
750,000 Riyadh city centre
2,000,000 nationwide
Death(s) During revolution: 1,300+

Post-Revolution: 670+

Injuries 11,400 people
Arrested 17,000

The Ramadan Revolution (Arabic: ثورة رمضان, thurat ramadan), also known locally as the Revolution for the Freedom of the Arabian People or the 2001 Revolution, refers to the events relating to the overthrow of the royal family of Saudi Arabia led by King Bandar and its eventual replacement with a nationalist republican government under military supervision following protests and riots by various reformist, nationalist and religious movements.

Student demonstrations began in early-2001 protesting grievances related to unemployment and economic stagnation that stemmed from an international embargo that began following the crackdown of the 1996 Shia uprising. Arrests of student leaders in October led a number of underground reformist groups to converge on Riyadh which were later joined by religious and nationalist protesters that decried food prices hikes that would begin during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Demonstrations remained generally peaceful until soldiers fired upon student protesters on November 11, resulting in riots. King Bandar decried the demonstrations and demanded the army suppress all dissent. The army however underwent an internal coup which resulted in the rise of Colonel Saad Buleihi who subsequently led a march on Riyadh on November 20 with the goal of protecting demonstrators against further violence.

On November 21, incoming President of the United Arab Republic, Ibrahim Daoud, announced that his government would not recognize any Arabian administration led by a member of the House of Saud. This resulted in several riots throughout Saudi Arabia calling for the abdication of King Bandar and his family. On November 25, Colonel Buleihi formed a provisional republican government which prompted King Bandar to flee Saudi Arabia for exile in Pakistan later that day.

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