US-backed Saudi regime set to behead female activist and four others
25 August 2018
State prosecutors in Saudi Arabia have called for the execution by beheading of 29-year-old political activist Israa al-Ghomgham, her husband, Moussa al-Hashem, and three others for the “crimes” of peacefully demonstrating against the country’s monarchical dictatorship, chanting slogans against the regime and posting videos of their protests on social media.
The death sentences, including the first for a Saudi woman based on alleged political offenses, are emblematic of a criminal regime that counts as Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world.
The protests that led to the charges took place in the port city of Qatif in the Saudi kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province, home to the bulk of the country’s Shia minority population. Beginning in 2011 and continuing since, the protests have challenged the systematic discrimination against and oppression of the Shia population by a monarchy that is bound up with the official, state-sponsored religious doctrine of Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative Sunni sect.
The demonstrations, demanding equality, improved social conditions in a region that remains deeply impoverished despite its oil wealth, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners, have been answered with a police state crackdown that has seen entire communities subjected to military siege.
Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband were arrested on December 6, 2015 when security forces staged a night raid on their home. They have been imprisoned ever since, held for 32 months, most of that time without access to a lawyer and without being presented with any formal charges against them. From a working class background, Ghomgham’s family did not have the money to pay for a…