Feb 09, 2019 09:27 Asia/Tehran

A Saudi little boy, while on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Medina with his Shia mother, has been barbarously killed for unknown reasons, fueling speculations that he could have been a sectarian and hate crime victim, media reports say.

Iran Press/Middle East: According to what circulated on social media, Zakariya Bader al-Jabir -- said to be six or seven years old -- was savagely murdered by a taxi driver in front of his mother late last month.

The New Arab website said that his mother’s recitation of salutations for the family of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) outraged the taxi driver who, according to “witnesses”, broke the window of his car, before grabbing the “seven-year-old” boy by the back of his shirt and slitting his throat in front of his mother.

The Muslim Vibe website’s account is also similar to that of the New Arab. It says the mother and the child had taken a taxi on their way to al-Masjid al-Nabawi Mosque in the middle of the day, when the driver 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 report said.

A human rights NGO, Shia Rights Watch, narrates the story of the “six-year-old” boy in another way.

The Saudi Gazette website quotes informed sources as saying that the assailant was a 35-year-old man sitting in a coffee shop in al-Tilal neighborhood and went out when he saw the young boy walking in front of him in the company of his mother.

"The sources said the killer quickly grabbed the boy from the hands of his mother, broke a bottle he found near the coffee shop and stabbed him. The boy had ordered a meal from a nearby restaurant and was going to collect it when the man saw him," the report said.

No official statement has been issued by either the police department or the Saudi government as of now over the potential link to sectarianism in this investigation, and this highlights the need for a transparent probe into the heinous crime.

The Saudi regime has cracked down on its Shia citizens, particularly in the Eastern Province, which has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011.

Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Back in January 2016, the Muslim world was infuriated when prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, an outspoken critic of Riyadh, was executed by Saudi authorities. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern province, in 2012. 101/202/213

 

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