UPDATE: President Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers which represents faculty at WMU issued the following statement:
“Saudi Arabia’s sickening beheading of a young student, after he was tortured and held in solitary confinement for years, is a despicable violation of international law and basic humanity. Condemned at 17, Mujtaba al-Sweikat was planning to attend Western Michigan University when he was arrested after attending a peaceful protest rally. Today, we discover this brave young man has been executed, along with more than 30 others, in a ghastly display of state brutality.
ORIGINAL STORY: A teenager who was getting ready to begin his studies at Western Michigan University was beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday according to a report from the kingdom’s official news agency.
Mujtaba al-Sweikat was arrested in 2012 at King Fahd International Airport when he was 17-years-old according to international human rights organization Reprieve.
According to mLive, Al-Sweikat was admitted to WMU in 2013 and planned to pursue an undergraduate degree in finance.
According to the Associated Press, Saudi Arabia beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shiites, in a mass execution across the country for alleged terrorism-related crimes.
“Today’s mass execution is a chilling demonstration of the Saudi Arabian authorities callous disregard for human life. It is also yet another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country’s Shi’a minority,” said Lynn Maalouf Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.
“The execution of the death penalty is a reinforcement of the punishment of a number of perpetrators for adopting extremist terrorist ideology and forming terrorist cells to corrupt, disrupt security, create chaos, provoke sectarian strife and damage to peace and social security” said the Saudi Press Agency in a tweet.
The Kingdom has executed more than 100 people in the first four months of this year and is on track to execute more than 300 this year.