21:26 GMT24 February 2021
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    The United States, a country with a death penalty in 31 of its 50 states has condemned its Middle Eastern ally Saudi Arabia for the execution of 47 people for terrorism, including a prominent Shiite cleric.

    According to the White House, the recent executions could exacerbate tensions between Sunni and Shia religious factions in Saudi Arabia, a country that has a wide Sunni majority. The US called all Middle Eastern heads on Saturday to "redouble efforts" to mitigate tensions.

    "We reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases," US State Department spokesman John Kirby, said in a statement following the executions in Riyadh.

    The executions of 47 people, including al Qaeda members, are intended by Saudi Arabia to signal that terrorist activities will not be tolerated, whether by jihadists of the Sunni majority or by minority Shiites.

    All of the executed were convicted of plotting and carrying out terror attacks targeting civilians and military in Saudi Arabia and abroad.

    Human rights advocacy Amnesty International stated in November that Saudi Arabia executed at least 151 people in 2015, the highest figure in 20 years.

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    Tags:
    U.S. Department of State, execution, Shiites, human rights, sunni muslims, al Qaeda, John Kirby, Tehran, US, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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