Saudi Arabia executes 47 people as 'terrorists'

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Yesterday, Saudi Arabian officials said they have executed 47 people whom courts convicted as terrorists.

Officials said the executions were not done in public. Saudi cleric Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh in justifying the executions cited Saudi Arabia's interpretation of Sharia Law and said the executions prevented the accused from committing further crime, calling it a form of "mercy".

File photo of Dira Square, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where public executions are carried out under Sharia Law; Saudi officials said the 47 people executed were not executed publicly, but rather within prisons.
Image: Luke Richard Thompson.

Some of those executed were reportedly Al-Qaeda militants behind terrorist attacks. Before the executions, an Al-Qaeda branch from Yemen threatened Saudi authorities with violence if they executed their members.

Among those executed was a Shi'a Muslim cleric who criticized both the royal family of Saudi Arabia and that of Bahrain; he condemned Bahrain's suppression of protests with Saudi aid. He reportedly avoided advocating violence. He was convicted of causing violence against authorities, and a Saudi court rejected his appeal of his conviction this past year. His execution led to condemnation from Iranian officials, who had previously said it "would cost Saudi Arabia dearly".

When news broke the 47 were to be executed, in November, regional Amnesty International director James Lynch said Saudi Arabia was settling "political scores" under "the guise of counter-terrorism."

The organization said at least 150 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015, while only 90 were executed a year ago in 2014.