US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says the United States should ask Saudi Arabia “serious questions,” following the Saudi regime’s execution of 47 people, including prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.
“Clearly this raises serious questions that we have to raise directly with the Saudi government,” Clinton said on Sunday during a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire.
The Democratic frontrunner was responding to a question about how she would handle the situation if elected president.
“We have governments we work with on a number of issues whose policies and values are antithetical to ours, to be just blunt about it. And yet who also have certain interests with us that we are involved in,” she said.
Clinton said she agreed with other world leaders in “statements of concern” about the mass Saudi executions.
“I think that even our friends who we work with on so many areas should not be immune from our criticism and our questions about rule of law about their treatment of minorities,” Clinton stated.
The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on Saturday that Sheikh Nimr along with 46 others, who were convicted of being involved in “terrorism” and adopting a “Takfiri” ideology, had been put to death.
Sheikh Nimr, a strong critic of Riyadh’s policies, was arrested in 2012 in the Qatif region of Eastern Province, where peaceful anti-regime demonstrations were held at the time.
He was charged with instigating unrest and undermining the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches and defending political prisoners. He had rejected all the charges as baseless.
After the mass executions, the Obama administration called on Saudi Arabia to have fair judicial proceedings and respect human rights.
“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,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US State Department, said in a statement on Saturday.
Kirby said Washington had previously expressed its concern about the legal system in Saudi Arabia and that it addressed those concerns at high levels with the Saudi government.
He said the United States maintains that the Saudi government should allow peaceful expression of dissent and cooperate with all community leaders to defuse tensions.
“We are particularly concerned that the execution of prominent Shia cleric and political activist Nimr al-Nimr risks exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced,” Kirby said.
By Press TV