Shiite Cleric’s Death Sentence Sparks Calls For Foreign Intervention

Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, a cleric and a leading voice for Shiite Muslims in the Saudi Arabian community, has been recently sentenced to death. The outspoken cleric was adamant during the 2011 and 2012 protests in the Shiite demand for the abolition of many anti-Shiite practices, put in place by the ruling family, most of which is comprised of Sunni Muslims.

When people took to the streets demanding dignity in 2011, the east was put in an awkward position. A year after the protests, Nimr was wounded and arrested in his home for what police say was resisting arrest with force, using violence in his protests, seeking foreign intervention, and being disloyal to the ruling family.

Human Rights Watch researcher Adam Coogle says in a statement to NPR that the sentencing of Nimr is solely political. Coogle also says that the sentencing will probably fester over time and lead to serious instability.

The court used to sentence Nimr was originally established to try terrorism cases, but has recently been used to silence anyone seen as a liability. Nimr’s nephew was sentenced to death in the same court. Human Rights Watch is calling for foreign intervention in the court.