The Chilling Message of the Saudi Executions

A couple of weeks have passed since the dramatic beheadings of 37 Saudi citizens that shocked the world.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 33 of those who were executed were from the minority Shia community — which has suffered a long history of persecution in Saudi Arabia.

With the Kingdom facing mounting criticism over bombing deaths and starvation in the Yemen war, imprisoned and reportedly tortured women activists, and the grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, many wonder why Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud offered critics another human rights issue? But these executions served a clear purpose — to strike fear in the Saudi Shia population while rallying the royal family’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi — the official creed of the Kingdom — fundamentalist base. In the end, to be Shia in Saudi Arabia has always been a complicated affair.

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