Saudi Arabia announced execution of the prominent Shia Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr who was kept in Saudi prison since July 2012. He was put to death after being convicted by what the interior ministry called terrorism offences.
However it is known by all and sundry watching the international scene that Sheikh Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority have long complained of marginalisation. This was a figure active on the sensitive Sunni-Shia sectarian fault line that creates tension in the Kingdom and far beyond.
The international rights group Reprieve called the executions “appalling” , saying at least four of those killed, including Sheikh Nimr, were put to death for offences related to political protest. Protests broke out in early 2011 in the oil-rich Eastern Province in the wake of the Arab Spring. Sheikh Nimr’s arrest in the following year, during which he was shot, triggered days of protests in which three people were killed. Sheikh Nimr is known to have advocated only peaceful demonstrations and eschewed all violent opposition to the government.
We condemn in strong terms the execution of the Sheikh, because killing of Ulama of his status who advocate for change in their societies will not augur well for peace and development, the state executioners normally deceive the public that that was what they crave for.
We are however not surprised by what the Saudi regime did, because it is known for its poor human rights record. It is known that Saudi Arabia carried out more than 150 executions last year, the highest figure recorded by human rights groups for 20 years.
However Saudi Arabia and other undemocratic, despotic regimes across the globe should know that the truth cannot be silenced by state sponsored terrorism, which is what killing people who call for peaceful change is, like Sheikh Nimr and others around the world.
Our condolences to the Muslims all over the world and the Shia community in Saudi Arabia upon the martyrdom of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, and all the other Shohada of the Ahl al-Bayt in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Nigeria and Afghanistan.
We conclude by an excerpt of the letter that Sheikh Nimr left to his mother before his martyrdom: For My Patient Mother Umme Ja’far: Praise be to God, who orders people while they are living under the shadow of his rule, [so] nobody can change anything unless the will of God be at that way. My mom! Be aware that God is seer of what people are doing even the smallest one and [our works] are not out of his will; it is enough for us to know that what happens to us are only on the basis of divine providence and nothing else. At the end, I leave you and all people to God who is the best guardian and protector.
NATIONAL PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT