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Outrage in Bahrain at death verdict for Saudi Shia scholar Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

THE LEVANT – People in Bahraini have waged a protest rally to voice their outrage over Saudi Arabia’s persisting crackdown on the Shia population in the US-backed Persian Gulf country.

The protesters took to the streets in Sitra Island on Sunday to show solidarity with the Shia Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who has been in prison for two years. Sheikh Nimr has been sentenced by Saudi Arabia to death.

Sheikh Nimr was attacked, injured and arrested by Saudi security forces as he was en route to his house in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on July 8, 2012. He has been charged with disturbing the country’s security, giving anti-government speeches and defending political prisoners.

Eastern Province has been the scene of violent clashes between anti-regime protesters and Saudi forces for some three years.

Riyadh has recently sentenced several Shia Muslims to prison over what authorities call insulting the country’s national flag.

Activists say there are over 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

International human rights organizations have criticized Saudi Arabia for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Bahrain has also launched a heavy-handed crackdown on anti-regime protesters since the uprising against the ruling Al Khalifa broke out across the Persian Gulf kingdom in February 2011. Troops from Saudi Arabia have been deployed to Bahrain to assist in its crackdown on the peaceful protesters.

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