Saudi Arabian court sentences radical leader of local Shiites to death
DUBAI, October 15 (RAPSI) - The court of Saudi Arabia sentenced to death Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite in the kingdom, who was arrested in July 2012 for instigating riots in the Eastern Province, RIA Novosti reports on Wednesday.
Al-Nimr’s arrest in 2012 triggered a wave of protests in the eastern regions of Saudi Arabia populated by the Shiite minority. Known for his radical and intolerant views, Nimr al-Nimr called his supporters to participate in protests against the Saudi Arabian officials. One of the sheikh’s ideas was separation of the Eastern Province from the kingdom and incorporation with Bahrain, which was, according to the sheikh, supposed to get rid of the ruling Sunni dynasty by then.
Influenced by the Arab Spring, in 2011 the protesters demanded democratic reforms and an end to discrimination of the Shiites. The Saudi officials accused the activists of instigating mass riots, resisting the police and following instructions of external forces.
Amnesty International reports that since February 2011, several hundred people have been arrested in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia for participating in the protests.
Shiites make up 10% of the Saudi Arabian population, where Sunnis dominate. The majority of the Shiites live in the Eastern Province.