Nimr al-Nimr: an outspoken voice for Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority

Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric who was executed on Saturday, was a long-time vocal critic of the kingdom’s Sunni rulers.

A native of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite-majority Eastern Province, al-Nimr moved to Shiite Iran in 1980 and stayed there for nearly 10 years, studying Shiite Islam.

After returning to Saudi Arabia, he became popular among fellow Shiites for fiery speeches in which he accused the Sunni government of discriminating against the country’s minority Shiites.

He demanded increased rights for the Shiite minority, which makes up some 15 per cent of the mostly Sunni Saudi population.

Al-Nimr backed the 2011 anti-government protests in the oil-rich Eastern Province, inspired by the Middle East’s then popular revolts, commonly known as the Arab Spring.

He was detained several times for his anti-government activism. His last arrest in 2012 triggered days of violent protests in his hometown, Qatif, in eastern Saudi Arabia.

”I am sure that my detention or death will be a motive for action,” he was quoted as saying in a mosque sermon prior to his arrest.

In 2014, a lower Saudi court condemned al-Nimr to death on charges of causing sectarian strife and disobeying the country's ruler.

In October, a top Saudi court confirmed the sentence against the 55-year-old.

At the time, Shiite leaders in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon warned Saudi authorities against executing al-Nimr.

Rights groups also called for his release, saying his trial was "deeply flawed." 

Last update: Sat, 02/01/2016 - 19:33
Author: 

More from World

Twelve confirmed dead after landslide strikes central China hotel

Ten bodies were pulled from the wreckage of a central Chinese hotel flattened by a landslide this week, bringing the...

Lebanese president hails foiling of suicide attack in Beirut

Lebanese security forces prevented a “massacre” when they foiled a suicide attack in a busy part of Beirut, Lebanese...

Major earthquake hits Papua New Guinea, but no tsunami risk

A tsunami warning was lifted Sunday after fears were raised following a major earthquake between Papua New Guinea...

Taliban to Trump: Do not follow in the footsteps of Obama and Bush

New US President Donald Trump should review US policy towards Afghanistan and not follow in the footsteps of his...

32 killed, 50 injured as train derails in southern India

At least 32 people were killed and 50 were injured when a passenger train derailed in India's southern state of...