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Umma Islamic Party, Saudi Arabia's First Political Party, Formed By Moderate Scholars

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KING ABDULLAH
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Ten moderate Saudi scholars say they've formed the kingdom's first political party and have asked the king for recognition.

After the turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia, there have been demands for reforms in Saudi Arabia, which follows strict Islamic rule.

Sheik Mohammed bin Ghanim al-Qahtani said on Thursday he is on the coordination committee of the newly formed Umma Islamic Party. He says the party sent a letter to the Royal Palace on Wednesday requesting recognition.

His statement says it's time to endorse political rights, including the right to elect a government, promote the role of women in society and preserve women's rights.

The party's nine other founding members are university teachers, political activists and businessmen.

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