Saudi Arabia breaks all records: mass execution of 81 people in one day

Saudi Arabia executed 81 people on Saturday. They were convicted on various charges, including murder, involvement in terrorist activities and “dissenting beliefs,” according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Among those executed were 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis and one Syrian. The report did not specify where the executions took place. It also did not say how the prisoners were executed, although prisoners sentenced to death are often publicly beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

An announcement on Saudi state television said the executed had “followed in the footsteps of Satan” in carrying out their crimes. The executions immediately drew international criticism.

The last mass execution in the kingdom took place in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shiite cleric who had called for demonstrations in the kingdom.

The number of executions had declined over the past two years. In 2019, the kingdom had executed 184 people, including six women. After the global condemnation, executions dropped 85 percent – perhaps her corona-related – to just 27 in 2020, but rose to 67 in 2021, according to human rights organization Amnesty International.