The prominent Shia scholar, Nimr Al-Nimr, has been sentenced to death by Saudi courts for the crime of “sedition” and “disloyalty” to the Kingdom’s rulers. Al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 for leading anti-government protests for over 8 months in eastern Saudi Arabia – later, he would be tried for his offenses in 2013. Upon Al-Nimr’s arrest, his brother Mohammad was notified that Nimr had committed seditious acts against the kingdom and that he would be tried by a Saudi state tribunal, facing the possibility of execution.
Sheikh Nimr Al-Nirm –age 56 – was a Shia community leader in Saudi Arabia that protested the Saudi Army’s quelling of the peaceful Bahraini protests in 2011. According to Mohammad Al-Nimr, his brother was calling for a peaceful resolve in Bahrain before his indictment on charges of unlawful sedition and disobeying the Saudi Royal Family. Outraged by the courts decision in 2013, throngs of civilians in Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, and in the Saudi province of Qateef took to the streets to protest the sentencing of execution.
Prior to his arrest in 2012, Sheikh Al-Nimr was an advocate for Shi’i rights in his country of Saudi Arabia. He was first arrested in March of 2011 after protesting the obstruction of entry for Shi’i pilgrims into the Islamic holy city of Medina by Saudi religious police. Saudi police would continue to harass Sheikh Al-Nimr following his first arrest – further agitating many of the frustrated civil rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi state courts have turned down Sheikh Al-Nimr’s request for an appeal, stating that the latter is considered an “enemy of the state.” According to a source, Sheikh Al-Nimr can be granted clemency by Saudi Royals; however, members of the family have yet to comment publicly. The source further added that Sheikh Al-Nimr’s fate is contingent on the Saudi Regime’s request to the Iranian government to pull its Revolutionary Guard’s Central Command from Damascus.
Over 2,000 civilians in the Saudi Arabian province of Qateef have taken to the streets to protest the verdict and sentencing by the Saudi courts. Many of the protesters are demanding the reversal of the punishment and the release of Sheikh Al-Nimr.