SAUDI ARABIA: 47 PUT TO DEATH, INCLUDING PROMINENT SHIITE CLERIC
January 2, 2016: Saudi Arabia executed 47 people convicted of terrorism-related offenses, including suspected members of Al Qaeda and a prominent cleric and government critic from the countryâs Shiite minority.
The executions, which were reported by the Saudi state news media, were the first of 2016 and followed a year in which at least 158 people were put to death, the most in two decades in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
Prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was arrested in 2012, had harshly criticized the Sunni monarchy of neighboring Bahrain for its violent suppression of protests by its own Shiite population after the start of the so-called Arab Spring in 2011. The Saudi government accused him of fueling violent dissent among Saudi Arabiaâs Shiites, which he denied.
The executions were carried out in the capital Riyadh and 12 other cities; four involved firing squads, and the rest were beheadings, said Maj. Gen. Mansour Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry. While most executions in Saudi Arabia are held in public squares, the ones on January 2nd were done inside prisons, General Turki said.
The simultaneous execution of the 47 people was the biggest mass execution for such offences in Saudi Arabia since the 1980 killing of 63 militants who seized Makkah's Grand Mosque in 1979. (Sources: Washingtonpost.com, Al Arabiya News, 02/01/2016)