Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province to protest against the death sentence of a dissident Shia Muslim cleric, Press TV reports.
For the third consecutive day, people launched rallies in several towns of the kingdom’s Eastern Province, including Qatif and neighboring Tarout Island, on Friday to show their solidarity with Saudi Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who has been handed down the death penalty.
The recent spate of demonstrations comes after Nimr was sentenced to death at the Specialized Criminal Court in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh on Wednesday.
“This regime [Saudi regime] has been torturing and killing people…and now they have taken it up to a new level which is to go after someone like Sheikh Nimr…. All of these are made-up charges to silence the voices that are growing in Saudi Arabia against this oppression,” human rights activist, Naseer al-Omari, told Press TV on Friday.
The prominent Shia cleric was attacked and detained in the Saudi city of Qatif in July 2012. His arrest sparked widespread protests in the kingdom, claiming the lives of several anti-government demonstrators.
Sheikh Nimr is accused of disturbing the country’s security, giving anti-regime speeches, and defending political prisoners.
Amnesty International has called the death sentence for Sheikh Nimr “appalling,” saying the verdict should be quashed since it is politically motivated.
International human rights organizations have repeatedly lashed out at Saudi Arabia for failing to address the human rights situation in the kingdom. They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.