Saudi protesters hold rally to support senior Shia cleric

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SHAFAQNA – Saudi protesters have once again taken to the streets, calling on authorities to overturn the death sentence handed to prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

The Saudis staged a rally in the Qatif region of Eastern Province for the third night in a row to show solidarity with Nimr, on death row in the kingdom.

The demonstrators carried placards and shouted slogans, urging the ruling Al Saud regime to release the respected cleric, who was sentenced to death last year.

The protest was held as calls were growing worldwide for the release of Nimr, who has been in jail for more than three years.

Also on Saturday, a similar rally was held outside the Saudi Embassy in London, where protesters voiced anger at the death penalty handed down to Nimr and other human rights activists in the Arab kingdom.

Nimr was attacked and arrested in Qatif in July 2012 on charges of disturbing the country’s security, delivering anti-government speeches, and defending political prisoners.

There have been numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province since 2011, with protesters calling for political reform and an end to widespread discrimination. A number of people have been killed and many have been injured or arrested during the demonstrations.

The monarchy has intensified repression not only against Shia Muslims, but also against Sunnis and other dissident voices.

International human rights organizations have criticized Saudi Arabia for failing to address the rights situation.

On May 1, Amnesty International criticized Saudi Arabia for its grim human rights record, arguing that widespread violations continue unabated in the oil-rich country even though a new ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has taken the helm of the absolute monarchy.

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