Demonstration in solidarity with Ahmed El-Gizawy at Saudi Arabia embassy in Cairo, 24 April, 2012 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
According to the Saudi Press Agency, an official Saudi source stated on Saturday that Saudi Arabia had decided to withdraw its ambassador from Egypt, close its embassy and consulates from Egypt.
The decision came as a result of the "unjustified" protests, which took place in front of the Kingdom's embassy in Cairo, and attempts to storm it threatened the safety of its employees, from both Saudi and Egyptian nationals. The demonstrators carried hostile slogans that infringe upon the sanctity of the Saudi diplomatic mission in Egypt violating international norms and laws, stated the Saudi official source to SPA.
As demonstrators attempted to disrupt the work of the Saudi embassy and consulates, including its efforts to facilitate the travel of Egyptian workers and pilgrims, the government of Saudi Arabia has decided to recall its ambassador for consultations and close its embassy in Cairo and its consulates in Alexandria and Suez, the Saudi source added.
For his part, the head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi has called Saudi Arabia to discuss Saturday's "surprise" move to close the embassy and recall its ambassador, according to MENA, Egypt's state news agency. Tantawi explained that he had learned about Saudi Arabia's decision from Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr while he was in the middle of a meeting with political parties and movements dicussing the constituent assembly.
Egyptians have been protesting against the Kingdom at its embassy in Cairo calling for the release of lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi and denouncing the mistreatment of Egyptians in the oil rich country. El-Gizawi was detained for reportedly "defaming the king," after he filed a lawsuit in a South Cairo court against Saudi monarch King Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz Al-Saud on behalf of Egyptians currently languishing in the Kingdom's prisons without charge.
Following reports that El-Gizawi had recieved a one year prison sentence and a punishment of 20 lashes, Kindgom officials denied these claims, stating that the Egyptian lawyer was arrested by Saudi authorities after being found in possession of more than 21,000 pills of anti-depressant drug Xanax, trade in which is proscribed in the Kingdom.
This article was corrected at 7pm to include the Saudi version of Ahmed El-Gizawi's arrest.