At least 52, including six Shia Muslim activists, to be executed in Saudi Arabia

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Friday, November 27, 2015

In Saudi Arabia, six Shia Muslim activists, along with at least 46 other people, are to be executed for terrorism on an unspecified date, according to reports on Thursday.

Varying local media reports said at least 52 people will be executed. Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz said some of the people convicted of terrorism were members of the militant group Al-Qaeda, and were convicted of attempting to overthrow the government and planning terrorist attacks. The 52 have allegedly killed at least a hundred civilians and seventy security personnel.

Amnesty International said others who are also to be executed were people from the city of Awamiya, where most of the population consists of Shia Muslims, a minority within Saudi Arabia. Protests have been held there, across the past several years, over alleged mistreatment of Shias by the government. Among those convicted of terrorism were the six Shia Muslim activists, at least two of whom reportedly were minors when they allegedly committed their crimes. Amnesty International has said the trials leading up to their conviction were clearly "unfair".

File photo of Dira Square, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where public executions are carried out under Sharia Law.
Image: Luke Richard Thompson.

James Lynch, Middle East and North Africa deputy director of Amnesty International, said Saudi Arabia was settling "political scores" under "the guise of counter-terrorism."

The three Shias, Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher, and Hussein al-Marhoon, said they have confessed to their supposed criminal acts under torture, according to Lynch.

More than 150 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015, while only 90 were executed a year ago in 2014, said Amnesty International.

This news came after Saudi-born Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death by a court in Saudi Arabia, which Human Rights Watch researcher Adam Coogle called an example of Saudi Arabia’s “complete intolerance for anyone who may not share government-mandated religious, political, and social views."