The mother of teenage pro-democracy protester Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, sentenced to crucifixion by Saudi Arabia, pleaded with President Barack Obama to use his power to pressure the close U.S. ally to spare her son.
In her first interview with foreign media outlets, Nusra al-Ahmed told the Guardian that Obama “can interfere and rescue my son.”
“To rescue someone from harm, there is nothing greater than that,” she continued. “My son and I are simple people and we don’t carry any significance in this world but despite that, if he [Obama] carried out this act, I feel it would raise his esteem in the eyes of the world. He would be rescuing us from a great tragedy.”
Al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 when he was just 17 years old following his attendance of a rally for Shia rights in the eastern city of Qatif, according to his mother. After being denied access to a lawyer, al-Nimr was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion in May 2014 on charges that include taking part in demonstrations against the government and possessing a gun—the latter of which his family strongly denies. “The court seems to have based its decision solely on ‘confessions’ which Ali al-Nimr has said were extracted under torture and other ill-treatment,” noted Amnesty International.
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Al-Ahmed confirmed to the Guardian that her son had been tortured and brutalized. “When I visited my son for the first time I didn’t recognize him,” she said. “I didn’t know whether this really was my son Ali or not. I could clearly see a wound on his forehead. Another wound in his nose. They disfigured it. Even his body, he was too thin.”