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Saudi Arabia executes top Shia cleric

Image result for picture of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

He was among 47 put to death after being convicted of terrorism offences, it said in a statement.

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.
Shia-lead Iran said Saudi Arabia would pay a “high price” for the execution.
A foreign ministry spokesman said Riyadh “supports terrorists… while executing and suppressing critics inside the country”.
Iran is the main regional rival of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.
The executions were carried out simultaneously in 12 locations across Saudi Arabia.
Those also put to death include Sunnis convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks in 2003.
Of the 47 executed, one was a Chadian national while another was Egyptian. The rest are Saudis.
The cleric’s nephew, Ali al-Nimr, who was 17 when he was arrested following the demonstrations, was not listed as one of those killed.

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.
His death sentence was confirmed in October 2014, with his family saying he had been found guilty among other charges of seeking “foreign meddling” in the kingdom.
Sheikh Nimr has been a persistent critic of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni royal family, but his supporters say he supported only peaceful demonstrations and eschewed all violent opposition to the government.

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