RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people convicted of terrorism-related offenses throughout 12 cities on Saturday, including prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
The Saudi Press Agency listed the names of those executed by firing squads and beheadings across the nation including in the capital of Riyadh. Amnesty International warned of the execution in late November, after a Saudi Arabian news outlet reported that 52 prisoners convicted of terrorism would be executed.
The simultaneous execution represents the largest of its kind in Saudi Arabia since 63 militants were executed in 1980.
The inclusion of al-Nimr, 56, among those executed has prompted protests from Shiites in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries, including Iraq’s Khalef Abdelsamad who called for the closure of the nations Saudi embassy. Al-Nimr was a central figure in the 2011 Arab Spring anti-government protests and is said to have a strong following by Saudi Shia young adults.
“The execution of Sheikh al-Nimr will have serious consequences and bring about the end of the Al-Saud [royal family’s] rule,” Abdelsamad’s office said according toThe Guardian. “Abdelsamad urges the Iraqi government to close down the Saudi embassy, expel the ambassador and execute all Saudi terrorists in Iraqi prisons.”
Al-Nimr’s brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, also tweeted promising that the movement towards democracy among Saudi Shiites would continue despite his brother’s death.
“Wrong misled and mistaken [are] those who think that the killing will keep us from our rightful demands,” he wrote.
By Daniel Uria