Prominent Shia Cleric and 47 others Beheaded in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia executed on Saturday 47 people on count of terrorism, proclaiming them as suspected al Qaeda members to include a prominent Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, said a statement broadcast on state television by Interior Ministry.
The conservative Islamic kingdom, which usually executes people by public beheading, detained thousands of rebels after a series of al Qaeda attacks from 2003-06 that killed hundreds, and so far have convicted hundreds of them.
Criticism emerged right after the execution of the Shia Cleric not only from different quarters of the world but on social media.
Critics have questioned Al-Qaeda that lives in enmity of Shi'ites across the world, then how did Sheikh Nimr, a Shia prominent cleric, became a member of the proscribed outfit. Nimr was already arrested on charges of treason as he remained ardent against Saudi Regime's atrocities on his commune. He was charged with challenging the writ of the state.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival, Iran has sent out a warning after Nimr's execution “would cost Saudi Arabia dearly”.
“I have no doubt that this pure blood will stain the collar of the House of Saud and wipe them from the pages of history,” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts and a Friday prayer leader, was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.
“The crime of executing Sheikh Nimr is part of a criminal pattern by this treacherous family … the Islamic world is expected to cry out and denounce this infamous regime as much as it can,” he added.
Sheikh Nimr, a critic of the Riyadh regime, was shot by Saudi police and arrested in 2012 in the Qatif region of Shia-dominated Eastern Province, which was the scene of peaceful anti-regime demonstrations at the time.
Amnesty International also had criticized the process of Sheikh Nimr’s trial and said it views the charges against the cleric as his right to free speech.
Last October, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also urged Saudi rulers to revoke the cleric’s death verdict.
The new announcement comes a day after a tally by The Associated Press, which was based on reports by Amnesty International, showed Saudi Arabia had carried out 157 executions in 2015, most of which were beheading by sword. This is a record of the most capital punishments conducted in a single year since 1995.
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