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

Saudi Arabia Plans To Execute This Pro-Democracy Activist
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:

"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