Arab Spring cleric Nimr al-Nimr among 47 executed by Saudi Arabia

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Saudi Arabia Plans To Execute This Pro-Democracy Activist

Saudi Arabia said Saturday it has executed 47 prisoners, including reformist Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Al-Nimr was a central figure in Shiite protests that erupted in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring, and carrying out his execution may spark new unrest among the OPEC powerhouse's Shiite minority.



The cleric's name was among a list of the 47 carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. It cited the Interior Ministry for the information. Saudi state television also reported the executions.

Related: Crucifixion Sentence in Saudi Arabia Sparks Outcry

Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the kingdom in two decades, according to several advocacy groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide.

His 17-year-old nephew was sentenced to crucifixion earlier this year but was not among those put to death this time.

Maya Foa, a spokeswoman for rights group Reprieve, said 4 of the 47 executed were political prisoners.

"Last year saw Saudi Arabia execute over 150 people, many of them for non-violent offences," she said. "This appalling news suggests 2016 could be even worse. Alarmingly, the Saudi Government is continuing to target those who have called for domestic reform in the kingdom.

Protests of Saudi Arabia executions:

9 PHOTOS
Protests of Saudi Arabia executions, beheadings
See Gallery
Arab Spring cleric Nimr al-Nimr among 47 executed by Saudi Arabia
FILE - In this Monday, April 21, 2008 file photo, a Syrian boy holds up a photo of a beheading, at a rally in downtown Damascus, Syria to protest Saudi Arabia?'s beheading of two Syrians after being charged with drug trafficking. Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the country in two decades, according to several advocacy groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi, File)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - April 17 : Migrant Worker activists seen holding placards during a protest against the beheading of Indonesian workers by the government of Saudi Arabia, in front of Saudi Arabia Embassy on April 17, 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia's government has summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Jakarta to protest against the execution of an Indonesian domestic worker. Siti Zainab was beheaded on April 14 in Medina after being convicted of stabbing and beating to death her employer, Noura al-Morobei, in 1999. Neither Indonesian consular officials nor her family were given prior notice, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said. PHOTOGRAPH BY Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
FILE - In this Thursday, April 1, 2010 file photo, activists from a civil organization reenact an execution scene in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, as they protest a possible beheading of a Lebanese man accused of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia. The Arabic writing on banners read:"don't kill." Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the country in two decades, according to several advocacy groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 file photo, Sri Lankan women shout slogans during a protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, condemning the execution of Sri Lankan domestic worker Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities said Wednesday a Sri Lankan domestic worker has been executed for killing a Saudi baby in her care in 2005. Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the country in two decades, according to several advocacy groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2015 file photo, protesters display placards during a rally near the Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines to call on the Philippine government to intercede to stay the scheduled execution convicted Overseas Filipino Worker, OFW, Joselito Zapanta, and all other OFWs in death row in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the country in two decades, according to several advocacy groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2012 file photo, protesters display placards during a rally near the Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines to call on the Philippine government to intercede to stay the scheduled execution convicted Overseas Filipino Worker, OFW, Joselito Zapanta, and all other OFWs in death row in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the country in two decades, according to several advocacy groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - April 17 : Migrant Worker activists seen holding placards during a protest against the beheading of Indonesian workers by the government of Saudi Arabia, in front of Saudi Arabia Embassy on April 17, 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia's government has summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Jakarta to protest against the execution of an Indonesian domestic worker. Siti Zainab was beheaded on April 14 in Medina after being convicted of stabbing and beating to death her employer, Noura al-Morobei, in 1999. Neither Indonesian consular officials nor her family were given prior notice, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said. PHOTOGRAPH BY Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - April 17 : Migrant Worker activists seen holding placards during a protest against the beheading of Indonesian workers by the government of Saudi Arabia, in front of Saudi Arabia Embassy on April 17, 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia's government has summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Jakarta to protest against the execution of an Indonesian domestic worker. Siti Zainab was beheaded on April 14 in Medina after being convicted of stabbing and beating to death her employer, Noura al-Morobei, in 1999. Neither Indonesian consular officials nor her family were given prior notice, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said. PHOTOGRAPH BY Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Desi Sri Rahayu, the ten-year-old daughter of Karni Binti Medi Tarsim, an Indonesian domestic worker executed in Saudi Arabia, holds a family potrait as she sits with her father Darpin at their home in Brebes in central Java on April 17, 2015. Saudi Arabia executed an Indonesian domestic worker on April 16, 2015, just days after beheading another woman from the country, prompting the Indonesian foreign ministry to summon the kingdom's ambassador, Jakarta said. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"There are now real concerns that those protesters sentenced to death as children could be next in line to face the swordsman's blade. Saudi Arabia's allies - including the US and UK - must not turn a blind eye to such atrocities and must urgently appeal to the Kingdom to change course."

Husain Abdulla, executive director of regional campaign group Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, said: "Saudi Arabia was able to commit the crime of executing Shaikh Nimr Alnimr because it felt the international community is silent on its gross human rights violations records and its slave like treatment to the women and men of Saudi Arabia.

"In the strongest possible terms we condemns the execution of Shaikh Nimr Alnimr. He was innocent and his execution is the example of injustice of the justice system in Saudi Arabia."

More from NBC News:
Ranks of ISIS recruits include mentally ill
Pilot who crashed In downtown Anchorage had death wish
Two killed, seven hurt in shooting at Tel Aviv cafe-bar

Read Full Story

People are Reading