Contrary to popular belief, Nimr al-Nimr is not an example of persecuted Shia

Op Ed Iran, Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

Was Nimr a peaceful man? Possibly. But for a man who was arrested with his crew that opened fire on police forces in a high speed chase, and who once defined himself in a leaked cable in 2008 as “first a Shia, then a Muslim, then a member of Ahl Al-Bayt, and finally a member of humanity”, his work and conduct were at the very least questionable and tainted with sectarianism. Equally was his readiness to defend the “right” for Shia Saudis to receive foreign assistance against the Saudi government in any ‘potential’ conflict. Given the man was also a strong advocate for dividing the country geographically and calling for a new state in the Eastern region and ‘Jihad’ against the Saudi government, it is difficult to place Nimr al-Nimr as the ideal example that peaceful Shia are being persecuted.