Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are at an all time low after the execution of a Shiite cleric.
The execution risks stirring renewed unrest among Shiites in the kingdom, and drew an immediate harsh response from Iran, which has warned in the past that carrying out the death sentence on Nimr could cost Saudi Arabia dearly.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says it was a crime and a mistake. And on Sunday, he tweeted, “Doubtlessly, unfairly-spilled blood of oppressed martyr #SheikhNimr will affect rapidly & Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians”.
Thousands of angry demonstrators across Pakistan have held a series of protest rallies in condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s execution of top Shia cleric sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.
According to an official source from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iran’s statements after Riyadh’s execution of 47 terrorists unmasked Tehran as a supporter and sponsor for terrorism.
“The execution of Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken critic of the Saudi royal family, has inflamed sectarian anger across the region”.
Sheik Nimr was among 47 people who were executed on Saturday after being convicted of terrorism charges.
Protesters were prevented by the large number of paramilitary forces from approaching the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Islamabad and Consulate General in Karachi.
And now there are reports that Saudi Arabia has given the Iranian ambassador in Riyadh 24 hours to leave the country.
Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Sunday condemned the execution of Al-Nimr, calling it an “unjust agression”.
Al-Nimr was the imam of a mosque in a majority Shiite area of eastern Saudi Arabia, where people have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni majority.
“While the extremist and Takfiri terrorists have deprived the regional and world nations of security and tranquility and threaten certain regional governments’ stability and existence, execution of a figure like Sheikh Nimr who didn’t have any instrument but words to pursue his political and religious goals merely shows the depth of imprudence and irresponsibility”, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said on Saturday.
Also, Chairman of the Sunni Lawmakers’ Fraction at the Iranian parliament Abed Fattahi deplored the execution of Sheikh Nimr by Riyadh, and said the bells have now started ringing for the collapse of the Saudi regime.
“It is unjustifiable”, he said in a statement.
Nimr was executed alongside 46 other people, including 43 Sunni jihadists, some of them al Qaeda leaders and ideologues.
The punishments were carried out in 10 provinces, Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said in a statement published on Saturday by the official Saudi Press Agency. Some protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the embassy, setting off a fire in part of the building. Nimr, who led anti-government protests in the country’s east, was previously convicted of sedition, disobedience and bearing arms.
Four, including Sheikh Nimr, were Shiites accused of participating in violent demonstrations in which demonstrators and police were killed.
“We have previously expressed our concerns about the legal process in Saudi Arabia and have frequently raised these concerns at high levels of the Saudi government”.
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