SHAFAQNA – Riyadh plans to execute the prominent Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, on May 14, an informed Saudi source disclosed on Wednesday. “The Saudi regime plans to execute Sheikh Nimr on the death anniversary of Nayef bin Abdullah, the former Saudi crown prince,” the source, who spokes on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of his information, told FNA on Wednesday.
He said the new King and his hawkish cabinet members mean to send a message to the Shiite community, dissidents and Iran through the move to show they are ready to pay any price in confrontation with Tehran.
Iran has repeatedly denied any link with the Shiite dissidents in Saudi Arabia.
The source said the Saudi rulers know that the move will engulf the monarchy in the flames of unrest and they might have to pay a heavy price for the execution of Sheikh Nimr, and they have prepared riot combat plans after consultations with several western security experts.
Nimr was attacked and arrested in the Qatif region in July 2012. His arrest sparked widespread protests in the kingdom leaving several people dead.
On October 15, 2014, Nimr was sentenced to death at the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. In reaction to the sentence, people took to streets in the city of Qatif in Eastern Province to condemn the move.
Amnesty International has called the death sentence “appalling”, saying the verdict should be quashed.
Nimr was given the death sentence on charges of disturbing the kingdom’s security and making anti-government speeches.
He is the Imam of al-Awamiyya Mosque in Qatif and has spent most of his two-year detention in solitary confinement at the al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh, according to Amnesty International.
Protesters have staged rallies worldwide to condemn the death sentence handed down to Sheikh Nimr, and have voiced solidarity with the dissident Saudi religious scholar.
There have been numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province since 2011, with the protestors calling for political reform and an end to widespread discrimination. Several people have been killed and many others have been injured or arrested during the demonstrations.
The Persian Gulf monarchy has come under fire from international human rights organizations, which have criticized it for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. Critics say the country shows zero-tolerance toward dissent.
In January, Joe Stork, the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Right Watch, slammed Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on activists in the kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia should free imprisoned activists and take other concrete, visible steps to show the government is willing to improve its abysmal rights record,” Stork said.
Stork also questioned the election of Saudi Arabia as a member of the Human Rights Council in November last year, saying that Riyadh has a record of repression and its membership is not warranted.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that does not allow any election.