Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Two Shiites have been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, accused of committing acts of violence during anti-government demonstrations of 2011 and 2012 when, in the wake of the Arab Spring, Saudi Shias (between 15 and 20% of the population) took to the streets (pictured) asking for reforms and equal rights. Compared to the Sunni majority they suffer higher unemployment and poverty than the national average. They also demanded greater religious freedom, in some areas they are banned from building mosques.
Shiites in Saudi Arabia are on trial for the protests that took place in the
eastern provinces, in conjunction with those of fellow Shias in neighboring
the 950 arrested, 217 are still being held.
The official news agency SPA reports that the death sentence handed down yesterday by the court in Jeddah refers to, "participation in the formation of terrorist groups" and "attacks against security forces and against public and private property." One of the two was also found guilty of having led and incited protests in the turbulent Shiite village of Awamiya, of having shot at police and he writing anti-regime graffiti on the walls. The two, along with a third person sentenced to 30 years in prison, were also found guilty of throwing petrol bombs at police vehicles. It is not clear if any police were injured in the attack.
It is possible to appeal the sentence within 30 days.