Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Death sentence for one of the leaders of the Shi´ite minority in Saudi Arabia

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr  (Photo Al-Akhbar)
A Saudi judge on Wednesday sentenced to death an outspoken Shi'ite Muslim cleric whose arrest two years ago prompted deadly protests, the cleric's brother said on his Twitter account. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was detained in July 2012 after backing mass protests that erupted in February 2011 in the Qatif district of eastern Saudi Arabia, which is home to many of the country's Shi'ite minority.
During these peaceful protests in Qatif and Awaymeh the Saudi regime between February 2011 and August 2012 killed more than 20 people, and wounded more than 58 people.
The number of people detained in the House of Saud’s prisons exceeded 1042. Of them 280 still remain in prison, including 24 children and 5 who were sentenced to death for “using violence against the police.”
Sheikh Nimr was arrested following a speech on 22 June 2012, in which he demanded an end to autocratic rule in Saudi Arabia. Last year a prosecutor said he was seeking to convict Nimr for "aiding terrorists" and "waging war on God", which carry the death penalty. The former interior minister Prince Ahmed had previously accused Nimr of being "mentally unbalanced".His capture, during which he was shot and wounded by police, prompted several days of protests in which three people were killed.
The Shi´ites in Saudi-Arabia are an underpriviliged and often harassed minority. They have at many occcasions been protesting against their status and Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was among the early participants of these  protests. In 1979 when he took part in what was known as “the first uprising,” when he was 20 years old. He has always been advocating peaceful means to protest and always sought to alert activists to the need not to respond to the provocations made by the security services, or to resort to violence.
 Oddly enough, the Saudi prosecutor-general, as he laid out his case against Sheikh Nimr in August, read a text from a sermon delivered by the Sheikh ostensibly condemning him of inciting violence, when the text clearly shows Nimr calling for preserving the peaceful nature of the protest movement. The text reads, “I recommend for young people not to be dragged into confronting swords with swords with a regime that wants to lure people to violence to justify the repression of the protests. We are stronger with our words. We are willing to die. Our movement is not peaceful in the sense of submission. We are peaceable with those who choose peace, but keep your hands off. Martyrdom is the strongest weapon that can defeat the strongest regime.”

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