A court in Riyadh has sentenced a Saudi national to 15 years in prison for supporting executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, local media reported on Thursday. Nimr and three other members of the kingdom’s minority Shiite community were among 47 people convicted of terrorism and executed on a single day in January.
The executions provoked anger among Shiites and concern in the West, and raised tensions between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. Nimr was a driving force behind protests among Shiites that began in 2011. Those protests later developed into a call for equality in the kingdom where Shiites, most of whom live in the kingdom’s east, complain of marginalisation.
Al-Riyadh newspaper did not name the convicted man, who it said took part “in rallies and marches” in the Shiite-dominated Gulf coast district of Qatif. He was also convicted of “chanting anti-state slogans and sympathising with the deceased Nimr”, as well as helping to block roads and burn tyres, it said.
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Among other accusations, the newspaper said he was willing to provide “the materials needed to make explosives” for attacks in the kingdom. Nimr’s Qatif-area hometown of Awamiya has been the scene of repeated security incidents since 2011.
After the protests started, police issued a list of 23 wanted people. Many suspects on that list have already been detained or killed in shootouts.