According to several human rights watchdog groups, Saudi Arabia will likely execute more people in 2019 than any other year this decade.
As of June, Riyadh has already executed over 100 people, with six months left in 2019. For comparison, this surpasses 2015, in which the government killed 158. Officially, among those sentenced to the death penalty include opposition figures, as well as criminals involved with drug trafficking, murder, and armed robbery.
Loose definitions, big problems
However, the ‘opposition figures’ seem loosely defined. It can and does include protesters. A case in point: Murtaja Qureiris who staged a protest with 30 other kids during the 2011 Arab Spring, when he was 10-years-old. CNN reports that Saudi authorities caught up to him and arrested him three years later. The same CNN sources say, having spent four years in detention, the now 18-year-old Qureiris faces terror charges and the death penalty.
Another problem with the loose definition of ‘opposition figures’ is that they aren’t always political. Open Doors USA’s Isaac Six explains, “The concern is that many of those who are executed are part of the Shia Muslim minority. So there’s a concern that there may have been some discrimination.”
In this case, discrimination against a religious minority also includes Christians, often treated as second-class citizens. Christians also risk imprisonment, beatings, and worse because of their faith or faith-related activities.
Research validates findings
The World Watch List (WWL) — which ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian — notes that the Saudi monarch has supreme power and absolute authority and can implement any law he champions as long as it complies with Sharia law and the Quran.
Six tells us that the state creates and maintains a strict Islamic system, as determined by the Saudi monarchy.
“Saudi Arabia is Sunni majority, and…the government and others really require that you follow a very strict line of Sunni Islam within Saudi Arabia. So anyone who deviates from that Sunni [tradition], especially Shia, can face a degree of discrimination and sometimes persecution.”
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SOURCE: Mission News Network, R.B. Klama