Tehran Denounces Sheikh Nimr's Execution

Tehran Denounces Sheikh Nimr's ExecutionTehran Denounces Sheikh Nimr's Execution

Iranian officials, clerics and lawmakers condemned the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia.

The prominent Saudi Shia cleric and three other Shias were executed alongside 43 Al-Qaeda-linked convicts on Saturday in 12 cities across the Arab country.

They were found guilty by the Saudi judiciary of being involved in violent activities against the kingdom, the state-run Saudi Press Agency and state television reported, citing the interior ministry.

In reaction to the execution of the leading Shia preacher, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson denounced Riyadh for supporting terrorism and executing its opponents.                                             

“The Saudi government supports terrorists and takfiri extremists, while executing and suppressing critics inside the country,” Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by IRNA.

A takfiri is a Muslim who accuses followers of other faiths or some Islamic sects as being unbelievers. All on the list of those killed are Saudi nationals, except an Egyptian and a Chadian.

Sheikh Nimr, a critic of the Riyadh government, was shot by Saudi police and arrested in 2012 in the Qatif region of Shia-dominated Eastern Province, which was the scene of peaceful anti-regime demonstrations at the time. He was charged with inciting unrest to undermine the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches and defending political prisoners. He had rejected all the charges as baseless.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and its presiding board, said in an interview with Mehr News Agency that Nimr’s execution reflected the “criminal” nature of the Saudi ruling family.In 2014, a Saudi court sentenced  Sheikh Nimr to death, provoking widespread global condemnations. The sentence was upheld last March by the appeal court.

“The crime of executing Sheikh Nimr is part of a criminal pattern by the House of Saud ... The Islamic world is expected to cry out and denounce this infamous regime as much as it can,” Khatami said.

Chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi told ICANA, “The executions … reflect complete lack of freedom and respect for religious scholars in Saudi Arabia and that the country’s government is a total dictatorship.”

Hossein Sobhaninia, Boroujerdi’s deputy, said the “crime” will have dire consequences for the kingdom’s authorities. “Saudi Arabia will soon have to pay dearly for the execution of Sheikh Nimr, the leader of Saudi Shias,” he said.  

Later in the day, the Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires in Tehran to protest over the execution of the dissident cleric.