According to a recent CNN report, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said it had executed 47 people in a single day, including a dissident Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who had repeatedly spoken out against the government and the Saudi royal family.
Nimr had been convicted of inciting sectarian strife, sedition and other charges following his 2012 arrest.
Human rights group Amnesty International had called the charges against Nimr vague and pronounced his death sentence “appalling.” The group said the case against him was part of a systemic effort by the majority Sunni government to crush dissent among the nation’s Shiite Muslim minority.
Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, issued a statement Saturday deploring the execution and warning that Saudi Arabia would pay a heavy price for its policies.
In addition to Nimr, Saudi officials said Saturday that 46 others had been executed at 12 sites after convictions for terror acts.
The condemned believed in extremist ideology and were members of terror groups, the ministry said in a statement. Some were convicted of plotting and carrying out attacks against civilians going back as far at an attack on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah in 2004.
Nimr, the imam of a mosque in a majority Shiite area of eastern Saudia Arabia, was an outspoken supporter of anti-government protests that broke out in 2011 — part of the “Arab Spring” uprisings that swept across northern Africa and the Middle East. (Excerpts from CNN)