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Saudi court sentences teenager to death over preparing iftar meal for political opponent: Rights group

This file picture shows Saudi police officers in the capital Riyadh. (Photo by AFP)

An international human rights organization says a Saudi court has handed down a death sentence to a teenager on charges of providing Iftar, a meal served at the end of the day during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, to a political opponent wanted by the kingdom’s security apparatus.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR), in a post published on its Twitter page on Sunday, identified the teenager as Ahmed Al Daghaam.

The report comes as human rights activists have warned that Saudi authorities plan to execute eight teenagers from the kingdom’s Shia-​populated Qatif region in Eastern Province.

The activists have mounted a campaign under the Arabic hashtag “Stop the Slaughter” to demand abolition of death penalties handed down to the minors.

They named the teenagers as Abdullah al-Howaiti, Abdullah al-Derazi, Ali al-Sabiti, Hasan Zaki al-Faraj, Jalal Al Labad, Mahdi al-Mohsen, Javad Qariris and Yousef al-Manasif.

The activists pointed out that the General Prosecutor's Office has sentenced Manasif, and at least five others, including a teenager named as Sajjad Al Yassin, to death for apostasy – abandoning their Muslim faith, according to trial documents.

They went on to note that these six people have been under trial in Saudi Arabia's Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) since September 2019. 

Senior Saudi Shia scholar’s fate remains unknown

Meanwhile, activities have warned that the fate of an imprisoned prominent Shia scholar from Saudi Arabia’s remains unknown, as the House of Saud is adamantly pressing ahead with a heavy-handed crackdown against members of the Shia community in the kingdom.

They said they had "no information" about the whereabouts of Hashim Muhammad al-Shakhs.

Imprisoned Saudi Shia scholar Hashim Muhammad al-Shakhs (Photo via Twitter)

Back in December 2020, members of the General Intelligence Presidency cordoned off the area around the house of Shakhs in the city of al-Ahsa, before breaking in and arresting the cleric.

The sources added that the Saudi regime forces ransacked the house, terrorizing the entire family.

Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activism, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom's authorities.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

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