Saudi Teen Faces Execution for Participating in Anti-Government Protest as a Child

June 10, 2019 Updated: June 10, 2019

A Saudi teenager faces execution—and possibly crucifixion or dismemberment after death—for participating in a protest against the government when he was 10 years old.

Executing minors is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but now that Murtaja Qureiris has turned 18, the Saudi Arabian government plans to execute the young man—using the harshest form of the death penalty in the kingdom, CNN reported.

A video obtained by CNN shows Qureiris on a bicycle with a group of approximately 30 other children, chanting “The people demand human rights!” on a megaphone in eastern Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Two years later, when Qureiris was 13 years old, he was arrested by Saudi border authorities while traveling to Bahrain with his family. He has been held in pre-trial detention ever since, 15 months of which is said to have been done in solitary confinement, according to CNN. The execution recommendation came just months before his 18th birthday.

Pre-Trial Detention

Qureiris will be tried in a special court because the Saudi government considers him a member of a terrorist organization. The 18-year-old faces one of the harshest forms of the death penalty in the kingdom—crucifixion or dismemberment after death.

Quereiris has been accused of “sowing sedition,” according to the CNN report, which prosecutors have argued justifies the harshest punishment for the young man, according to the Saudi Arabian kingdoms’ interpretation of Sharia law.

Qureiris is also accused of making Molotov cocktails for his older brother, who was killed during a protest against the government when Qureiris was 11 years old, The Telegraph reported.

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Saudi Law

In Saudi Arabia, it is against the law to participate in protests against the government, and the offense is punishable by death. At the time of Qureiris’s arrest, he was considered the youngest political prisoner in the world, according to The Telegraph.

So far in 2019, at least three other prisoners arrested as minors were allegedly executed once they turned 18 years old, the news website reported.

In April alone, 37 men, largely comprised of the Shiite minority, were beheaded in an effort by the Saudi Arabian government to crack down on dissidents. One was said to have been crucified after being executed, something Qureiris could also face.

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Reactions

Amnesty International has criticized the kingdom’s decision to seek execution for the young man.

“It is appalling that Murtaja Qureiris is facing execution for offences that include taking part in protests while he was just ten,” the organization said.

People took to Twitter to criticize the Saudi government for the cruel punishment, with one calling the country the “kingdom of terror.”

“Only in the #Saudi kingdom of terror: #MurtajaQureiris was 13 when he was arrested, tortured into signing false confessions. He is now 18, and the Prosecution is seeking to execute him for protesting!,” one person wrote on the social media site.

“Free #MurtajaQureiris now!!!” one Twitter user wrote.

“We condemn the inhumane Saudi state. Murtaza Qureiris unconditional release of the wish,” another person said via Twitter.

“Now #Saudi_Regime is planning to execute Murtaja Qureiris, an #innocent boy with cherubic face Who at the age of 10 Participated in #non_violent bike Protest demanding rights for #Shia_Minority in Saudi. At the Age of 18 now, He faces the death Penality,” another person wrote.

“#MurtajaQureiris demonstrated as a 10-year-old human rights activist. He was arrested at the age of 13. Now he is 18 and is to be executed, his body possibly crucified. The #SaudiArabia regime is one of the most disgusting in the world for me after turkey!” another person wrote on the social media site.

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