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Saudi Arabia shuts embassy in Egypt amid protests

Egyptian protesters have demanded the release of Egyptian human rights lawyer Ahmed el-Gezawi who was detained earlier this month upon arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi embassy 2012 28 04 Enlarge
Egyptian security forces stand guard outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo on April 28, 2012. Saudi Arabia has decided to recall its ambassador to Cairo and close diplomatic missions in Egypt after protests outside its embassy. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia has shut its embassy and consulates in Egypt after protests.

Reuters reported it also announced it had recalled its ambassador for "consultation."

Egyptian protesters have demanded the release of human rights lawyer Ahmed el-Gezawi, the BBC reported.

Reuters, citing state news agency SPA, said the move comes amid attempts to storm the Saudi embassy and consulates which "threatened the safety of its employees."

El-Gezawi was detained earlier this month on arriving in Saudi Arabia and accused of insulting King Abdullah, the BBC wrote.

There are conflicting reports as to what he did to insult the King. The Guardian also said the Saudi authorities claimed he was arrested for trying to smuggle anti-anxiety drugs.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said el-Gezawi had been traveling on to Mecca on a pilgrimage, according to CNN.

Protesters said he was arrested after filing a complaint against the treatment of Egyptians in Saudi prisons.

The diplomatic clash set off by el-Gezawi's arrest is the worst between the two countries since Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries broke off ties with Egypt when it signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979, said the Guardian.

Ahram Online reported that Egypt's cabinet released a statement, apologizing for the actions of protesters which prompted the embassy closure. The statement stressed that the violent acts only represented a few aggrieved individuals. The cabinet said the acts were "irresponsible" and "spontaneous," harming the "deep-rooted" relations between the two countries.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/120428/saudi-arabia-shuts-embassy-egypt-amid-protests-0