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Iraqi MPs blast Saudi Arabia for executing Shia cleric

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Top Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr

The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shia political party, has strongly deplored Saudi Arabia’s execution of leading Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr.

Salim Shawqi, one of the Iraqi party’s lawmakers, said the execution was a stain on the ruling Al Saud family’s reputation, describing the regime in Riyadh as suppressive and dictatorial.

Nimr was executed alongside 46 others on Saturday. Shawqi said the Saudi decision to carry out Sheikh Nimr’s death sentence was a sectarian move.

Mohammed al-Sayhud, a lawmaker with Iraq’s ruling Shia coalition, said, “This measure taken by the ruling family (of Saudi Arabia) is aimed at re-igniting the region, provoking sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shias.”

An outspoken critic of Riyadh’s policies, Nimr was shot and arrested by the Saudi police in the Qatif region of the kingdom’s Shia-dominated Eastern Province in 2012.

He was charged with instigating unrest and undermining the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches, and defending political prisoners. He had rejected all the charges as baseless.

In 2014, a Saudi court sentenced the clergyman to death, provoking widespread global condemnations. The sentence was upheld last March by the appeal court of Saudi Arabia.

Back at the time, UK-based rights body Amnesty International called the sentence “appalling,” saying the verdict should be quashed since it was politically motivated.

Riyadh continues to face strong criticism by international human rights organizations for failing to address the human rights situation in the kingdom. They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association, and assembly.


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