A man from Saudi Arabia who had been planning on attending Western Michigan University was among the 37 people executed by the Saudi state yesterday.

Mujtaba al-Sweikat had been 17-years-old and right about to get on a plane in Saudi Arabia in 2012 to head to the United States to visit WMU, when he was arrested for taking part in the Arab Spring protests. According to the rights organization Reprieve, Mujtaba was severely beaten and tortured into a confession, leading to the death sentence.

International law which Saudi Arabia is party to outlaws the execution of people convicted for crimes committed when they were juveniles, but regardless, Mujtaba and 36 others were beheaded in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Jon Hoadley, whose district includes Western Michigan University in
Kalamazoo, said "Our right to pray or not, speak, assemble, and petition and protest are some of the hallmarks of our democracy that people defend against enemies foreign and domestic. People around the world are often seeking those same freedoms at great personal risk."

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