Riyadh Urged Not to Kill Cleric

Riyadh Urged Not to Kill ClericRiyadh Urged Not to Kill Cleric

The deputy foreign minister has called on Saudi Arabia to overturn the death sentence for prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, “Relevant Saudi (judicial) officials are expected to adopt a realistic approach and prevent the execution of the sentence and prevent tensions in the Muslim world from escalating,” the Mehr news agency reported late on Wednesday.

He underlined that such moves will by no means help restore peace and calm to the restive Middle East region. A Saudi court on Wednesday sentenced Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken cleric from the predominantly Shiite Eastern Province who has led protests for more rights and an end to discrimination by the Sunni authorities, to death on charges of “sedition”, his family said.

Most of Saudi Arabia’s estimated two million Shiites live in the east, where most of the wealthy kingdom’s oil reserves lie, and many complain of marginalization. The death sentence has drawn widespread criticism from other Iranian officials and clerics.

 Ebrahim Aqa Mohammadi, member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, described the conviction as “a blatant example of violation of human rights” by Saudi authorities.

The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom on Thursday condemned the verdict against the Saudi cleric. In a statement, it called for immediate release of the Saudi cleric from prison which has aroused the anger of the Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia is also facing an international outcry and accusations of promoting sectarian hatred after the Shiite religious leader was sentenced to death.

Amnesty International criticized the verdict as “appalling,” dismissing Nimr’s trial as “deeply flawed,” and calling for the sentence to be immediately quashed.