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Saudi Arabia executes 47, including Shiite cleric

Saudi Arabia says all those executed were convicted of acts of terrorism.

Saudi Arabia’s execution of a leading cleric from the Shi’ite Muslim minority drew protests from around the world against the ruling Al Saud family and threatened to further intensify a wave of sectarian conflict in the Middle East.

He said on his certified Facebook account that muffling voices and executing opponents “would lead to nothing but more destruction”, expressing “intense shock” upon hearing the news of the execution.

Before his arrest in 2012, al-Nimr had said the people do not want rulers who kill and carry out injustices against protesters.

Al-Ribh was just 18 when he was detained, while Shioukh was a year older.

An Egyptian citizen and a Chadian citizen were also among the executed, the ministry said.

“Today’s appalling news, with almost 50 executed in a single day, suggests 2016 could be even worse”.

The Saudi television airwaves were flooded with pro-government analysts saying the executions are a blow to critics who accuse the kingdom of not doing enough to counter extremism. There are now real concerns that those protesters sentenced to death as children could be next in line to face the swordsman’s blade.

The executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. The execution of al-Nimr is expected to deepen discontent among Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority and heighten sectarian tensions across the region.

The cleric’s brother, Muhammad al-Nimr, whose son Ali is also a political prisoner, appealed for calm, saying the late ayatollah would have wanted only “peaceful protests”. Saudi Arabia sent troops to help Bahrain quash the uprising, fearing it would spread. Germany does not allow the death penalty. “Together with its European Union partners, Germany is working to abolish and ban the death penalty worldwide”.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the case “raises serious concerns regarding freedom of expression and the respect of basic civil and political rights”. “We seek to build strong and mature relationships so that we can be candid with each other about those areas on which we do not agree, including on human rights”.

“This action will spark anger of [Shia] youths” in Saudi Arabia, but “we reject violence and clashing with authorities”, said Mohammed al-Nimr. “This is something that must be addressed”, Dakhil told Al Jazeera.

“In 2014, 90 people were beheaded in the kingdom, the highest in two decades”.

“Britain must live our values and criticise nations like Saudi Arabia that continue this heinous and barbarous punishment”.

In comments posted on Iranian state television’s website, Ali Larijani said, “Nimr’s martyrdom will put Saudi Arabia in a maelstrom”. He was arrested at the age of 17. Protest rallies were held in Bahrain, where police used tear gas on the crowds, India, in Saudi’s Eastern Province and outside the Saudi embassy in London.

Nimr, 56, promoted peaceful protest among his followers.

As a Saudi-led coalition announced the end of a ceasefire in its war with Yemen’s Houthi movement, the Houthis said Nimr had been given a “mock trial”.

“This is an absolute, fundamental, breach of basic human rights”.

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