S Arabia stages "largest mass execution of Shias" in its history

S Arabia stages

S Arabia stages "largest mass execution of Shias" in its history

The protests rocked the country's Eastern Province, a home to the Saudi Shia minority, that demanded an end to anti-Shia discrimination and the release of political prisoners. The kingdom publicly pinned the executed body and severed head of a convicted Sunni extremist to a pole as a warning to others, the AP reports.

The executions also come days after four Islamic State gunmen died trying to attack a Saudi security building north of the capital, Riyadh, and on the heels of Easter Day attacks that killed over 300 people in Sri Lanka and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

In January 2016, Saudi Arabia enraged Shiite Iran with the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, among a group of 47 people convicted of "terrorism".

The 37 were all Saudi nationals.

Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, said the executions on Tuesday, after convictions in the specialized terrorism court, were a "horrifying show of impunity by the Saudi government" and a "staggering violation of worldwide law".

"Instead of stepping up executions at an alarming rate in the name of countering terrorism, Saudi Arabia's must halt this bloody execution spree immediately and establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely".

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Human rights group Amnesty while hitting out at the Saudi Crown Prince's government said that the majority of those executed were convicted under "sham trials".

"This is the largest mass execution of Shiites in the kingdom's history", he said.

King Salman, seen in this photo from March, ratified Tuesday's mass execution by royal decree.

The Interior Ministry's statement on the executions was spread across state-run media, including the Saudi news channel al-Ekhbariya. The bodies of two of the executed men were publicly hung from a pole for several hours and this blatant lack of respect for the dignity of the deceased men has sparked controversy because of its grisly display.

People convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking face the death penalty, which the Saudi government says serves as a deterrent against serious crime.

Last year, the oil-rich Gulf state carried out the death sentences on 149 people, according to Amnesty International, which said only Iran was known to have executed more people. Such actions are traditionally carried out after midday prayers.

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