Iranian Protesters Attack Saudi Embassy After Prominent Shiite Cleric Executed – Huffington Post
Human rights groups have consistently attacked the kingdom’s judicial process as unfair, pointing to accusations that confessions have been secured under torture and that defendants in court have been denied access to lawyers.
Riyadh denies torture and says its judiciary is independent.
Analysts have speculated that the execution of the four Shi’ites was partly to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia’s majority Sunni Muslims that the government did not differentiate between political violence committed by members of the two sects.
The 43 Sunni jihadists executed on Saturday, including several prominent al Qaeda leaders and ideologues, were convicted for attacks on Western compounds, government buildings and diplomatic missions that killed hundreds from 2003-06.
“There is huge popular pressure on the government to punish those people,” said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst close to the Saudi Interior Ministry. “It included all the leaders of al Qaeda, all the ones responsible for shedding blood. It sends a message.”
Government-appointed clerics have for years denounced al Qaeda and Islamic State as religious “deviants,” while the government has cracked down on jihadists at home, squeezed their funding streams abroad and stopped them traveling to fight.
Yet critics say the ruling family has not done enough to tackle the sectarian intolerance, hatred of infidels and praise for the principles of violent jihad propagated by Saudi clerics.
After the executions, Islamic State urged its supporters to attack Saudi soldiers and police in revenge, in a message on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service used by the group’s backers, the SITE monitoring group reported. (Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi, Sam Wilkin, Noah Browning, Omar Fahmy and Katie Paul; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by W Simon)