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Mother of Saudi man sentenced to crucifixion begs Obama to intervene
The mother of a Saudi protester sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion has begged Barack Obama to intervene to save her son's life. In her first interview with foreign media, Nusra al-Ahmed, the mother of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, whose case has made headlines around the world, described the intended punishment as savage and "backwards in the extreme".
Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Reprieve, the US talkshow host Bill Maher and the British prime minister, David Cameron, have all weighed in with calls for clemency to stop Nimr, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, from being beheaded and then crucified. The oil-rich state is facing increasing diplomatic scrutiny over the severity of its penal system as it takes over the chair of the UN human rights council.
Asked how she was coping knowing that at any moment her son could be put to death following the Saudi supreme court's rejection of his appeal, Ahmed said: "For other people every hour is composed of 60 minutes, but for me every hour is 60 beats of pain." She said her son had been detained sometime after joining Shia demonstrators in the eastern coastal city of Qatif seeking equal religious rights in the Sunni-majority country.
The official charges levelled against Nimr included attending a protest, using his phone to encourage further support for the demonstrations and possessing a gun, an accusation which the family strongly denies. "They were peaceful and civilised and legitimate and so my fear was, I was afraid for my son, but inside I agreed with them in principle."
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