Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has executed 47 people for terrorism, including the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Most of those executed on Saturday were involved in a series of attacks carried out by al-Qaida from 2003-06, the interior ministry said.
Iran, a Shia Muslim country, has warned that executing Nimr “would cost Saudi Arabia dearly”.
In October 2015 Saudi Arabia’s supreme court rejected an appeal against the death sentence passed earlier on Nimr, who had called for pro-democracy demonstrations and whose arrest in 2012 sparked protests in which three people died.
Nimr had long been regarded as the most vocal Shia leader in the eastern Saudi province of Qatif, willing to publicly criticise the ruling al-Saud family and call for elections. He was, however, careful to avoid calling for violence, analysts say.
That did not prevent the Saudi interior ministry from accusing him of being behind attacks on police, alongside a group of other suspects it said were working on behalf of Shia Iran, the kingdom’s main regional rival.