Everyone knows that when the Islamic State crucifies people, it is practicing a bizarre extremism that has nothing to do with Islam. Oddly enough, our friends and allies the Saudis have succumbed to the same misunderstanding of Islam. Could it be that both have read this? “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment” (Qur’an 5:33)
Raising fears of renewed sectarian tensions in the region, Saudi Arabia’s top court has sentenced a charismatic opposition leader to death for speaking out against the kingdom’s ruling family.
Nimr Baqer al-Nimr, a reformist cleric, has repeatedly called for an end to corruption and discrimination against minorities. He has a wide following, particularly among young people in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, home to most of the country’s minority Shiites, who are considered heretics by the Sunni-ruled government.
After being imprisoned for nearly two years, al-Nimr appeared in Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court Wednesday with his lawyer and two brothers. Charged with terrorism offences and “breaking allegiance to the king,” the judge upheld the country’s harshest sentence — “crucifixion” — where the decapitated body is publicly displayed. His brothers were reportedly detained after the sentencing.
Al-Nimr’s family urged Saudi authorities to reconsider the sentence, given the cleric’s teachings to never use force against the government. “They use violent bullets, we will use the roar of the word,” al-Nimr said in a sermon in 2011.
In another sermon that year, al-Nimr stated: “It is not permitted to use weapons and spread corruption in society.”
Al-Nimr was arrested in July 2012 following a gun battle in which he was shot in the leg four times for allegedly resisting arrest. His relatives deny police claims of rioting, saying the protests were peaceful and that al-Nimr never resisted arrest or owned a gun.
The confrontation took place after a fiery speech al-Nimr delivered earlier that month following Arab Spring-inspired protests across the region. “What gives the House of Saud the power to inherit the throne?” he said. “The House of Saud and Khalifa (in Bahrain) are mere collaborators with and pawns of the British and their cohorts. It is our right, and the right of the Bahraini people, and all people everywhere, to choose our leaders and demand that rule by succession be done away with as it contradicts our religion.”…