Middle East

Saudi Arabia executes 47 people, incl prominent Shiite cleric, on terror charges

Saudi Arabia executes top Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Saudi Arabia has executed 47 people for terrorism, including the prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr, the Interior Ministry said Saturday. His execution has stirred particular outrage among the kingdom’s critics, saying the cleric’s death aims to “set the region on fire.”

Most of those executed were said to be involved in a series of attacks carried out by Al Qaeda between 2003 and 2006.

Iran has warned that executing al-Nimr “would cost Saudi Arabia dearly,” reporters reported.

A prominent state-affiliated Iranian cleric, Ahmad Khatami, said the execution of Nimr al-Nimr was something to be expected from “criminal” Saudi Arabia, Iranian Fars agency reported. He added that Saudi ruling family would be “wiped from the pages of history” for executing the cleric, Mehr reported.

An MP from the ruling Shi’ite coalition in Iraq said Nimr’s execution aimed to “set region on fire,” Sumaria TV reported.

The Lebanese Supreme Shi’ite Council has condemned al-Nimr’s execution, calling it a serious “mistake.”

Nimr, along with six others, were accused of orchestrating anti-government protests between 2011 and 2013 in which 20 people died. Earlier this year, the kingdom’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the death sentence passed on the Shia cleric.

“Sheikh Nimr enjoyed high esteem in his community and within Muslim society in general and no doubt there will be reaction,” Mohammed al-Nimr told Reuters by telephone.

The Interior Ministry statement announcing the executions began with verses from the Koran, justifying the use of the death penalty, while state television showed footage of the aftermath of Al Qaeda attacks over the last decade. Shortly afterward, Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh appeared on Saudi Arabian television, hailing the executions as just.

The Wahabbi monarchy carried out at least 158 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in two decades, according to human rights groups.

Adam Coolge, Middle east researcher for Human Rights Watch, told AP that Saudi Arabia had executed almost twice as many people in 2015 as the year before. The horrific figure is second only to 1995, when the Gulf kingdom executed 192 people.

Saudi Arabia carries out most executions through beheading and often in public, giving rise to comparisons with terrorist group DAESH (which also claims to be implementing Shariah law) while carrying out public beheadings.

The regime in Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticized by human rights organizations.

Saudi Arabia has been compared to Daesh in long time now, especially for their support of terrorist organizations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Hashtags #SueMeSaudi and #SaudiArabiaIsISIS has now many hits every minute, and many want to mark their opposition and to show their distance to the brutal dictator regime in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia practice Wahhabism ideology, a strictly fundamentalist orientation within Sunni Islam, which in practice is the state religion in the country. It is also ideology direction that has inspired al-Qaida and Daesh.

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