Pictured: Six-Year-Old Boy Beheaded in Saudi Arabia in Act of Sectarian Violence

By Zachary Stieber

A 6-year-old boy in Saudi Arabia was beheaded in front of his mother because he was a Shia Muslim, a human rights group claimed.

According to Shia Rights Watch, the boy and his mother took a cab to visit the shrine of the Prophet Muhammed in Medina. When they arrived, a stranger approached them and asked if the mother was Shia. She said yes.

Minutes later, a car stopped by the pair and a group pulled the child away from her and attacked him with broken pieces of glass.

“Witnesses report the child was beheaded from behind as mother watched and screamed,” Shia Rights Watch said. No one intervened and there has been no official response, it added.

The situation was described differently by the blog The Muslim Vibe, which later posted footage of the boy’s funeral.

Sources close to the family told the blog that the taxi driver was the one who beheaded the boy.

“The taxi driver, for yet unestablished reasons, then pulled over the car, got out, and forced the boy out of the car near a coffee shop in the Al-Tilal neighborhood. The taxi driver then broke a glass bottle to obtain a shard of glass, which he then used to cut the throat of the child and stab him,” the blog claimed.

The boy’s mother tried to stop the attacker but when she failed, she fainted. Witnesses said that a policeman nearby did try to stop the man but also failed. However, he was able to restrain the attack until backup arrived.

Victim Identified

The first pictures have emerged of the murdered boy after he was identified as Zakaria Al-Jaber.

“Smallest coffins are the heaviest,” wrote one Twitter user Sajid Hussain.

“You don’t need to be a Shia or Sunni. Try to be a Human first. Justice Delayed means Justice Denied,” he added, calling what happened “barbaric.”

He concluded the caption with the phrase hashtag #JusticeForZakaria.

Another user, Haideri Yam, wrote that Zakaria’s “only crime” was being Shia.

Saudi officials have reportedly claimed it an isolated incident but some activists said it was an act of sectarian violence.

“The Saudi Shia community came together today in mourning and to show solidarity with the parents,” the Shia Rights Watch group stated.

“The community also reported this incident is a result of ongoing violations and lack of protection by the Saudi authority toward its Shia population.”

Shia Rights Watch, which on its website says it “achieves its objectives through strategic investigations supported by targeted advocacy in order to bring about informed action,” said the beheading must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The group said that Saudi Shiites “have been under a military crackdown by their government and many Shiite activists are in prisons and [sentenced to] death.”

“[The] beheading of a young child in such manner must be addressed as soon as possible,” the group said in the press release.

According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed the third-most people in the world in 2017, the last year full figures are available for. The country executed 146 people, behind Iran’s 507 people and China, where thousands of executions are believed to be carried out on an annual basis.

Executions are usually carried out around the world through four methods: beheading, hanging, lethal injection, or shooting.

Amnesty said that Saudi Arabia’s justice system, which is based on Islamic Sharia law, “lacks a criminal code – leaving definitions of many crimes, and their punishments, open to the interpretation of individual judges. In some cases, mere suspicion of being guilty is enough for a judge to invoke the death penalty. This can be based on the character of the defendant or severity of the alleged crime.”

Most of the executions in the country are beheadings.