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Iran: Saudis face ‘divine revenge’ for executing al-Nimr

Saudi Arabia will face “divine revenge” for its execution of a prominent Shia cleric, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned.

Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, burning images of the Saudi king
Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, burning images of the Saudi king

Ayatollah Khamenei described Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as a “martyr” who acted peacefully.

Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran late on Saturday, setting fire to the building before being driven back by police.

Several hundred people gathered outside the building again on Sunday afternoon.

The authorities have changed the name of the street on which the Saudi embassy stands, naming it after the executed Sheikh Nimr, one of 47 people executed for terrorism offences on Saturday.

But Ayatollah Khamenei said the cleric had been executed for his opposition to Saudi Arabia’s Sunni rulers.

“This oppressed scholar had neither invited people to armed movement, nor was involved in covert plots,” the ayatollah tweeted.

“The only act of #SheikhNimr was outspoken criticism,” he added, saying the “unfairly-spilled blood of oppressed martyr #SheikhNimr will affect rapidly & Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians”.

Sheikh Nimr had been a figurehead in the anti-government protests that erupted in the wake of the Arab Spring up to his arrest in 2012.

The execution has worsened long-running tensions between the two Middle Eastern nations, which support opposite sides in the Syrian and Yemen conflicts.

The US and UN have both called for restraint.

In a statement after the executions, US state spokesman John Kirby appealed to Saudi Arabia’s government to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings.

Mr Kirby also urged the Saudi government to permit peaceful expression of dissent and, along with other leaders in the region, to redouble efforts to reduce regional tensions.

Who was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr?

News of Sheikh Nimr's execution prompted an angry response from Shias across the region
News of Sheikh Nimr’s execution prompted an angry response from Shias across the region
  • In his 50s when he was executed, he has been a persistent critic of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni royal family
  • Arrested several times over the past decade, alleging he was beaten by Saudi secret police during one detention
  • Met US officials in 2008, Wikileaks revealed, seeking to distance himself from anti-American and pro-Iranian statements
  • Said to have a particularly strong following among Saudi Shia youth

Most of the 47 executed by Saudi Arabia were Sunnis convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks last decade.

Saudi Arabia carried out more than 150 executions last year, the highest figure recorded by human rights groups for 20 years. BBC

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