The death sentence handed to the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqer al-Nimr violates the Divine as well as civil laws, the imam of Al-Reda Mosque in Sydney, Australia said.
In an interview, Sheikh Nami Farhat Al-Ameli added that by issuing such a verdict, the Saudi regime seeks to intimidate the opposition and appease the extremists.
Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was sentenced to death on October 15 by the Specialized Criminal Court in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Here are Sheikh Al-Ameli’s views about the verdict and the reasons behind it.
Q: What reasons do you think are behind the death sentence?
A: The Saudi regime is built on a system of dictatorship, everything in the country (including people) belong to one family. So when a voice is raised calling for equality between citizens or asking for some rights it is obvious that such a regime will utilise its power to destroy it. Adding to this that the Saudi regime is built not only on the system of dictatorship but also on the Wahabism beliefs that don’t consider the Shi’a school of thought as Muslims. So how about if a scholar from this -as they claim- disbeliever group stands up and speaks against his people’s oppression?
Q: What objectives does Saudi Arabia pursue by issuing such a verdict?
A: In my opinion the Saudi regime wants to send three messages. The First message is to the opposition making them aware that any stand that opposes us publicly the result will be execution even if you are considered an important figure in the Islamic nation.
The Second message is to the right wing in the country showing them that they are applying the Islamic laws according to their beliefs, and I believe this is a very important message that the Saudi regime wants to deliver. As nowadays there is a big debate taking place between extreme groups in the Saudi regime whether their government is practicing Islam laws correctly (according to their beliefs) or should they take sides with ISIS (ISIL) and other extreme parties. By issuing the death sentence, the Saudi regime sent a clear message to this particular group, also convincing them they have an enemy inside their country (i.e. the Shias) and they arrested their leader. So there is no need for you to help or join ISIS which may cause damage inside the country as we will protect you from the enemy.
The third message the Saudi regime wants to send is for the world stating that they are still strong! It is important as in the past few years many problems occurred within the Saudi family, and the king is on his death bed. The message is to state that we are still able to protect our regime.
However I highly doubt that they will execute the death sentence on Sheikh Al Nimr. It is only messages that they want to deliver and they have been successful in some.
Q: Is the sentence justifiable according to Islamic laws as well as in terms of human rights?
A: The death sentence against Sheikh Nimr Baqer al-Nimr violates civil and divine laws. The Human rights declaration states “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law” (description of the UN declaration article 7, the United Nations). In Islam we do not find any ruling stating that you can kill a human being if he asks for justice; in fact Islam is built on a just system, anyone who reads the history will know how even non-Muslims used to live under the Islamic government which protected them, and the Islamic Republic of Iran today is a clear example of a true Islamic government that gives the opportunity to the minorities ( including Sunnis, Christians, Jews, etc) to represent themselves in the parliament and they have freedom in practicing their religions and traditions.
But if you ask me whether is it justifiable according to Wahabi laws? The answer is Yes. As they consider Sheikh Nimr to be a disbeliever and killing him is not only allowed but a recommended act that they will be rewarded by performing it!
Q: What should human rights organizations as well as international bodies like the UN, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, etc, do with regards to this verdict?
A: The UN is under the control of the American imperialist system and only works for the benefit of this system. As for us, we must stand as Muslims, and show our support and rejection. Every community or party can study the steps that they can take according to where they live and the freedom they have. Perhaps in the west we can show our support through contacting human rights organizations and also through protesting in front of the Saudi embassy under the slogan of “we are all Sheikh Al-Nimr”.
Q: What can the media do about it?
A: Again media is under the control of the American imperialist system, but today’s media is not limited to newspapers or television. In fact social media is more powerful than television. We can use media to educate our communities, guide and encourage them to be active in standing and supporting the case of Sheikh Nimr in the way they find best.
Q: Will this issue lead to the deterioration of relations between Saudi Arabia and Shia-majority countries like Iran, Lebanon and Iraq?
A: Governments work in a different way than societies, there is a system that they must follow in facing this problem and it can’t be announced publicly until they decide