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Saudi Arabia sentences prominent Shia cleric to four years in prison amid brutal crackdown

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)
Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Kazem al-Omari (Photo via Twitter)

Saudi Arabia has sentenced prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Kazem al-Omari to four years in prison, as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on members of the religious community.

Lebanon-based al-Ahed news website announced that the clergyman-- the son of Shia cleric Sheikh Muhammad al-Omari, who is among distinguished religious figures in the holy city of Medina –received a four-year sentence on Saturday.

Saudi regime forces arrested Sheikh Omari in January this year.

He was arrested for the second time at the end of November.

Sheikh Omari was also arrested on August 11, 2009, after Saudi regime forces raided his father's farm in Medina, where his office and mosque are also located.

Currently, many Sunni and Shia scholars as well as political and social activists are held in Saudi prisons.

Back in January, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Shia cleric Sheikh Abdul Latif al-Nasser-- a resident of Dammam city in the kingdom's oil-rich and Shia-populated Eastern Province--to eight years in prison.

Sheikh Nasser was arbitrarily arrested on the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in June 2019 as he was traveling with his family.

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Ever since Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

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

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.

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