Ali al-Nimr was just seventeen-years-old when the Arab Spring reached Saudi Arabia in the year 2011, a country tightly controlled by its royal family.
“With all the enthusiasm of youth, Ali joined people in the streets calling for reform,” his parents said. But Ali wasn’t an ordinary protester. His uncle, the Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was considered the spiritual leader of the movement. To Saudi officials, he was a revolutionary with ties to their arch rival, Iran.
In 2012, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was accused of inciting the uprising, arrested and imprisoned. In January 2016, Sheikh Nimr was executed along with 46 other Saudi prisoners.
Now his nephew, Ali is twenty-one-years-old, and still imprisoned, his fate uncertain. “I can feel the sword against his neck,” his father said.
Ali was detained as well, and charged with treason and sedition — the boy told his father in a call from prison – words that Ali didn’t even understand.
This is Ali’s story.
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