In this Saturday, May 30, 2015, photo, Saudis carry a poster demanding freedom for jailed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, during a funeral procession, in Tarut, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
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Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric and dozens of al-Qaeda members on Saturday, signalling it would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni extremists or minority Shiites, and stirring sectarian anger across the region.Most of the 47 executed in the kingdom's biggest mass execution for decades were Sunnis convicted of al-Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago.However, the executions seemed mostly aimed at discouraging Saudis from jihadism after bombings and shootings by Sunni militants in Saudi Arabia over the past year killed dozens and ISIS called on followers there to stage attacks.The simultaneous execution of 47 people -- 45 Saudis, one Egytian and a man from Chad -- was the biggest mass execution for security offences in Saudi Arabia since the 1980 killing of 63 jihadi rebels who seized Mecca's Grand Mosque in 1979 .Analysts have speculated that the execution of the four Shiites was partly to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia's majority Sunni Muslims that the government did not differentiate between political violence committed by members of the two sects.The executions are Saudi Arabia's first in 2016 .
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