CFI, Allies Urge Secretary Kerry to Press Saudi King Over Death Sentences for Shia Muslims

November 20, 2015

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is amongst 17 organizations and two individuals that sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today urging him to press Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to halt the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr and several other demonstrators from the country’s marginalized Eastern Province.

On October 24 2015, the Saudi Supreme Court ratified the death sentence issued to Sheikh Nimr in October 2014. Since September, the Saudi criminal justice system has also ratified the death sentences of Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher, three men arrested as minors in 2012 for their protest activity.

Stating that many of the charges on which the men were convicted are unrecognized by international law, the signatories referred to the trials of Sheikh Nimr and the others as “grossly unfair” due to ongoing and credible allegations of torture and lack of due process. Furthermore, in sentencing Sheikh Nimr, the Specialized Criminal Court, Saudi Arabia’s terrorism tribunal, considered sermons made by the cleric as evidence against him, despite independent analysis confirming that Sheikh Nimr did not incite others to violence in his preaching.

The letter ends by urging Sec. Kerry to leverage his “close relationship with King Salman to press him to grant Sheikh al-Nimr access to any medical attention that he requires, commute his death sentence, as well as those of Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher, and order a fair trial for each of them.”

You can read the full letter here.