Jan 2, 2016, 11:49 AM
News Code: 81903043
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Saudi Arabia executes Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr (UPDATES)

Tehran, Jan 2, IRNA - Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia Muslim cleric known for his sermons criticizing the kingdom’s government and for his support of political protests in the country’s oil-rich Eastern Province.

According to the al-Arabiya News Agency, the Saudi Interior Ministry on Saturday said 47 people convicted of what the ministry called terrorism have been executed.

Prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr was among those executed, the Interior Ministry said in the statement.

Also, the majority of those executed were of Saudi nationality. The 47 men were from 12 regions in the kingdom, Saudi ministry added.

Saudi authorities didn’t immediately disclose the crimes for which Shahid (martyr) Nimr al-Nimr was convicted and sentenced in Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court.

Shahid al-Nimr’s family said they were shocked by what they described as the court’s “totally political sentence”.

Protesters in Shia region of Saudi Arabia have called for political overhauls, a constitutional monarchy and an end to discrimination against the country’s minority Shias.

More than 20 people have died in violent clashes between security forces and Shia protesters in the Qatif region since 2011.

The Saudi action could heighten tensions in Shahid al-Nimr’s hometown of Awwamiya, a town in the Qatif region where he was arrested in July 2012 after a car chase near his family’s farm.

Shahid al-Nimr gained prominence in Saudi Arabia’s Shia community for his vocal support to protests.

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