Death Sentence for a Shi’a Cleric in Saudi Arabia

A protester holds up a picture of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a rally at the coastal town of Qatif, against Sheikh Nimr's arrest in this July 8, 2012 file photo. Saudi authorities and officials in other states in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council deny targeting activists for human rights work but say that people who participate in illegal protests or foment unrest can be arrested. (REUTERS)
A protester holds up a picture of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a rally at the coastal town of Qatif, against Sheikh Nimr’s arrest in this July 8, 2012 file photo. Saudi authorities and officials in other states in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council deny targeting activists for human rights work but say that people who participate in illegal protests or foment unrest can be arrested. (REUTERS)

Riyadh (ShiaPAC) – The Saudi prosecutors have recommended the death sentence in the trial of Shaykh Baqir al-Nimr, a Shi’a cleric known for his vocal opposition of the Saudi monarchy. The trial started without due process, in the absence of the family of the defendant or his lawyers. The government invited only some of the local government affiliated news agencies to cover the trial.

The prosecutor, accusing him of “aiding terrorists” and instigating unrest, said he was guilty of “waging war on God”, a crime according to Saudi law, that automatically carries the death penalty, al-Riyadh daily reported.

Saudi Arabia has no written legal code and judges have wide discretion to deliver verdicts based on their interpretation of sharia and without reference to precedent.

In 2011 Shaykh Tawfiq al-Amr, another Shi’a cleric was also imprisoned for demanding a constitutional monarchy, lifting the ban on personal freedoms, and equality for all. He was also charged with raising the call for prayers according to the Shia tradition.

Many religious scholars and academics have condemned the government’s actions against Sheikh al-Nimr including a group of 135 religious scholars and leaders in Ahsa province who issued a statement rejecting the regime’s accusations.

The Pre-Trial Hearing :

Two weeks ago, through statements from twitter accounts believed to be linked to Interior Ministry officials, it was announced that Shaykh Nimr would be put on trial. Not surprisingly, two weeks later and without any notice,  Saudi authorities took Shaykh al-Nimr from his hospital bed, by ambulance, under heavy security, to the court house.

Sheikh al-Nimr who was shot and injured during his arrest in 2012 was shackled and unable to walk, while being escorted by officers into the courtroom on a wheel chair. Judge al-Dosari read the list of charges against Shaykh al-Nimr, which included incitement to violence against government property, interfering in the affairs of a neighboring country (Bahrain), incitement of terrorist activities, spreading disorder and harming national unity, not being patriotic, insulting a neighboring country, and threatening the use of an outside source.

An article from a Saudi newspaper states that Shaykh al-Nimr asked the court to allow him time to respond to these accusations, and to appoint him a lawyer. He also asked for his family to be present during his trial, which would continue in Riyadh. In a message to his supporters Shaykh al-Nimr said that “he felt his spirits lifted” upon hearing the charges.

TAKE ACTION- What can you do to help Sheikh al-Nimr:

– Appeal the human rights organizations and the international community to recognize Shaykh Nimr as a prisoner of conscience, and to pressure the Saudi government not to treat him as an enemy of the state.

-Build pressure on the Saudi regime by contacting your local elected officials in the US & European nations as well as the global print and broadcast media.

4 thoughts on “Death Sentence for a Shi’a Cleric in Saudi Arabia

  • April 1, 2013 at 11:30 pm
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    Long Live Hosayniat!

    Reply
  • April 4, 2013 at 4:35 am
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    Saudi government shouldn’t be biased based on the caste. They have given the Cleric Death Penalty just because He is a Shia Muslim. There should be transparent and fair trial. asking for one’s right and justice is not war on Allah (s.w.t). Discrimination and injustice against Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia is a known phenomenon to world. It is not hidden.

    Reply
  • April 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm
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    LANAT HO ALAY SAUD AND ALAY YAZEED THAY ARE SAME.

    Reply
  • August 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm
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    Saudi regime has been shutting eyes from human rights of the people born and raised in Saudia. Only selected famiilies have been enjoying the wealth without being questioned as there is no opposition in the country. Rulers have been living lives of extra oridinary class and dictatorship is in place. This type of government has not been approved by Quran and Sunnah. Billions of dollars have been spent and invested in foreign countries. There is no written criminal code in effect in the country. Any one can be tried for the offences which automatically carry death punishment . Defense can not be brought forward. The courts work in worst manner than a law of jungle. Whatever is alleged by a Prosecuter , has to be the base of conviction since no defense is allowed. This happened to Sheikh Nimer who was not provided any opportunity to prove his case. International human rights forums should raise their voice to introduce democracy in Saudi Arabia where there should be a free election and there should not be a rule of tyranny like Saddam and other dictators. King Abdullah is not less than any other tyrant then why he should be allowed to continue. His government has been invoked in global unrest and casualties. Everyone should raise the voice to point out the brutalities of this tyrant regime.

    Reply

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