SHAFAQNA – Since his arrest in 2012, Ali Mohammad al-Nimr the nephew of prominent Shia cleric and rights activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr has languished in a Saudi Arabian prison, the pawn in a cruel game of political manipulations and sectarian hatred.
As world leaders continue to argue national security, rationalizing their silence under broad, and let’s face it empty statement, one young man is facing death … and not just that! His jailors, his tormentors have called; no, they have demanded for his death to be absolutely cruel. Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, the most violent, repressive, reactionary and anti-democratic regime in the world has ruled that one of his nationals be beheaded and then crucified.
Under strict order of the Saudi Royal court, a judge saw fit to condemn a young, an innocent man to death by beheading, to later parade his mutilated body so that the people will cower before the might of their king.
A 16-years old boy was taken away from the safety of his home for he dared exercise those rights which are not only inalienable but inherent to human nature. Ali was born on December, 25th, 1995 – a date which should resonate and hope as it coincides with Christmas in the Christian community.
While Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was born a Muslim, his beliefs are not foreign to that of Judaism and Christianity – in his prayers he honors and remembers those name the Church and Judaism hold most dear: Abraham, Jesus, Moses … those prophets who relentlessly stood and fought against tyranny.
Following his unlawful arrest by Saudi Arabia’s infamous Security Forces he was transferred to a juvenile detention center – a tacit admission of his age on the part of the authorities – There he was tortured and held incommunicado for six months.
His fingerprint was then forcibly imprinted on a confession he neither ever agreed, nor made.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was denied proper legal representation. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was set up and left to rot alone in a cell for Riyadh Royals thought to use him as a pawn against his uncle: Sheikh al-Nimr.
His rights, dignity and future were robbed, trampled over and violated in the most vicious, relentless and cowardly manner there is, for those in powers felt they could laugh in the face of international law and get away with it.
In truth so far they have … They have because world leaders have proven too cowardly; because world leaders have forgotten in their quest for influence and control to remember that Ali al-Nimr is not just another collateral damage to be brushed under the rug. Ali al-Nimr is a person, he is a life and he is a voice.
The day we stopped caring whether a man lives or dies is truly the day darkness will have swallowed us whole.
Martin Luther King Jr said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Justice is not a word or a notion we should take for granted. Justice requires courage indeed and it requires for leaders to act bravely – not for political gain, but because it is the right thing to do.
Can we tolerate living in a world where our leaders can stare barbarism in the face and still get to hold on to those moral values they clamor to represent?
Can we tolerate calling Saudi Arabia an ally when over the course of a year the kingdom has saw fit to launch an illegal military campaign against Yemen with one hand while it used the other to prop Wahhabi-inspired radicals across the Middle East?
Can we remain silent when women, men and children are slaughtered by Saudi Arabia on account their faith – Shia Islam, has been labelled an apostasy by Al Saud’s Wahhabi clergy?
Will we sit and turn away while our youth, our children, our sons are being castigated by a murderous and rapacious regime on account their pockets line more zeros than America’s deficit?
Silence is contagious!
Ali Mohammad al-Nimr cannot be another silence on our collective wall of shame! Ali is his mother’s child, he belongs with his family. He DOES not belong in jail! He should never have landed in jail.
His arrest was motivated by a desire to repress and oppress the people of Qatif (eastern province of Saudi Arabia), and beyond all religious minorities. And not just that, his arrest was motivated by a desire to further inflict harm on a family which purpose and mission has always been to stand tall before tyranny.
Al Nimr have become the hope of an entire nation, for their voices have always carried above the regime threats – forever calling for justice and freedom. Will we not raise our voices now that their own have been silenced?
Will we not stand with them when their legs have been stolen from under them?
Will we dare walk away when everything they always stood for was for their people, for the people of Hijaz to reclaim their place under the Sun – proudly, unafraid and free?
Ali Mohammad al-Nimr is not just another youth accused of a crime he did not commit. He is the nation a king wants to keeps in shackles.
Silence is not an option anymore, not when silence echoes of the cries of our children.
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna Institute for Middle East Studies