11/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Saudi Arabia Lashes Teenagers After Rare Riots

Saudi Arabia flogged a group of 20 teenagers following rare riots on the country's national day in which shops and restaurants were looted, Reuters reported.

The youth were given 30 lashes each for smashing windows of restaurants and shops in Khobar, the BBC reported.

The public punishment allegedly took place in Khobar and nearby Dammam.

Human rights activists and liberals condemned Monday's flogging.

Some reports in the Saudi press said that the teenagers targeted Western brands thinking they had connections with Israel, Reuters reported. Other reports place blame on the growing frustration of the country's young who have few outlets to release their energy.

Still other reports said that the clashes broke out because religious conservatives tried to stop the youth from celebrating the country's national day -- an act they deem blasphemous, the BBC reported.

The BBC says the media have voiced serious concern over the incident.

Reuters quoted a newspaper columnist, Abdullah al-Alami, as saying, "This terrible event reflects the need to allow more space for the youth in terms of sport clubs, movie theaters and recreation facilities."

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