Saudi Arabia Executes 47 People


The new year in Saudi Arabia started with a mass execution of 47 people, including a popular Shiite leader. The killings were carried out in 12 Saudi cities. The government accused all of the criminals of being terrorists or planning activities against the government.  The country's  officials said that the executions have been carried out according to Islamic law.

In 2015 , a total of  157 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, a country with one of the highest execution rates worldwide.  The death penalty in Saudi Arabia is carried out for a wide range of crimes.

The most prominent victim was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite opposition leader who led protests during the Arab Spring of 2011. He was the most important religious figure in the eastern part of the monarchy, where the Shiite minority lives.  The Saudi government accused him of starting violence among Shiite and Sunni groups. Nimr was found guilty and sentenced to death in 2015. His execution may be the start of a new wave of protests and violence in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, also a monarchy that oppresses its people.

Although most executions in Saudi Arabia are beheadings that  are carried out publicly, the killings at the beginning of 2016  occurred  in prisons across the country.



The state executions have led to widespread protests from around the world. Neighbouring Iran, with a Shiite majority, said the the Saudi government would be punished for killing Shiite citizens.Amnesty International and other human rights organizations condemned the executions.



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  • according to = as said by ....
  • accuse = to say that someone has committed a crime
  • although = while
  • Arab Spring = demonstrations and protests that broke out across the Middle East and Northern Africa in 2010 and 2011
  • beheading = to kill a person by cutting his head off
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • condemn = to say very strongly that you do not like something
  • criminal = person who has done something that is against the law
  • death penalty = when a country allows a criminal to be killed legally
  • execute = the legal killing of a person
  • government = people who rule a country
  • guilty = to prove that you have committed a crime
  • human rights = the basic rights that every person should have
  • including = also
  • law = the rules of a country
  • mass execution = the official killing of many people
  • majority = largest group of people in a country
  • minority = small group of people in a country
  • monarchy = political system in which a king or queen rules a country
  • occur = happen
  • official = person in a high position in a country or its government
  • oppress = to treat a group of people badly and not give them the same rights as others
  • opposition leader = important person who is against the government
  • publicly = in front of many people
  • punish = to make a person suffer because they have done something wrong
  • sentence = to give someone a punishment
  • Shiite = a group of Muslims ; they make up about 15 % of all Muslims in the world
  • victim = here: person who was executed
  • violence = fighting
  • wave = if something suddenly becomes more or larger
  • wide range = very many
  • widespread = in many places