RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed 47 people convicted of “terrorism”, including a prominent Shiite cleric behind anti-government protests, the interior ministry said.
The 56-year-old cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, was a driving force of the protests that broke out in 2011 in the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s east, where the Shiite minority complains of marginalization.
But the list does not include Nimr’s nephew, Ali al-Nimr, who was 17 when he was arrested following the protests.
The ministry statement, carried by the official SPA news agency, said the 47 had been convicted of adopting the radical “takfiri” ideology, joining “terrorist organisations” and implementing various “criminal plots”.
The list also includes Sunnis convicted of involvement in Al-Qaeda attacks that killed Saudis and foreigners in the kingdom in 2003 and 2004.
Those executed include an Egyptian and a Chadian. The rest were all Saudis.
The list includes Fares al-Shuwail which Saudi media outlets have described as the top religious leader of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. He was arrested in August 2004.
They were executed Saturday in 12 different Saudi cities, the ministry said, without giving details on the method used in the executions.
Saudi executions are usually carried out by beheading with a sword.
Executions have increased in the kingdom since King Salman acceded to the throne in January 2015 following the death of king Abdullah.
The number of convicts executed on Saturday is more than half of those executed under Salman’s predecessor in the whole year of 2014 – 87.