Saudi Arabia has reported the execution of 47 prisoners, including Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, according to Ahram Online. Nimr al-Nimr was arrested and charged for his part in a 2011 Shia uprising in the eastern region of the largely Sunni nation. The Shia minority has claimed “marginalization” at the hands of Sunni majority.
— Ahram Online (@ahramonline) January 2, 2016
Nimr’s nephew, Ali al-Nimr, who was apprehended after taking part in the protests, was reportedly spared from execution for at least the time being. Ali al-Nimr’s execution was seen as being imminent in September 2015, as reported by TheInquisitr.
Nimr al-Nimr was reportedly arrested in 2012 in the eastern Saudi town of Awamiya after being wounded in a fight with authorities. After his arrest, protests lasting for days, in which three people were killed, were said to have been orchestrated. Nimr’s death sentence was reported to have been handed-down in October 2014, according to the BBC.
“The Saudi Arabian authorities appear intent on continuing a bloody execution spree,” a report released by human-rights watchdog Amnesty International on Monday stated, said to quote the director of the Middle East and African program with the organization, James Lynch.
Fares al-Shuwail was among the names said to be included in the list of executions; he was alleged to have been a high-ranking Al-Qaeda religious leader and was arrested in 2004. Others executed were said to include Sunni Al-Qaeda sympathizers involved with attacks against Saudis and visitors, which killed more than 150, in 2003 and 2004.
A statement released by the Saudi interior ministry stated that the 47 who were executed had been found guilty of “adopting the radical ‘takfiri’ ideology, joining ‘terrorist organisations’ and implementing various ‘criminal plots.'” No details were given on the methods used to execute the convicted, but it is reported that swords are often used in Saudi executions. The Saudi Arabian justice was said to have been dished out in 12 separate cities.
Among those executed, all were said to be Saudi Arabian citizens with the exception of one Chadian and one Egyptian national. Through 2015, Saudi Arabia was reported to have executed 45 foreigners for drug charges, of a total of 63, which Amnesty International sees as a “disproportionate” amount.
Saudi Arabia is currently ruled by King Salman, who ascended to the monarchy in January 2015 after the death of King Abdullah. The pace of Saudi executions has increased with the new king’s rule. In 2014, Saudi Arabia carried out 87 executions — that number increased to 153 in 2015; said to be the highest number in 20 years — 192 were executed in Saudi Arabia in 1995. 2016 is only two days old and already 47 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia this year.
King Salman was reported to have granted blogger Raif Badawi a pardon in late November 2015, after having been sentenced to a sure death sentence of 1,000 lashes. He was said to barely survive after he received the first round of 50, as reported by The Inquisitr. Badawi is still being held by Saudi authorities; the blogger is said to be in “declining health,” according to the Globe and Mail.
A spokesperson with Iran’s foreign ministry, Hossein Jaber Ansari, was said to have issued a statement that Saudi Arabia would “pay a high price” for the execution of the Shia cleric, with whom the largely Shia nation was sympathetic, according to Al Jazeera.
Nimr’s brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, was reported to have professed a hope that any protests held in the wake of the executions would be peaceful. Nimr al-Nimr was described as supporting “only peaceful demonstrations” having “eschewed all violent opposition to the government.”
“Dozens” of protesters were said to have staged demonstrations in neighboring Bahrain. Police were reported to have used tear gas to break up the demonstrating al-Nimr supporters.
[AP Photo/Hasan Jamali]