Execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheik Nimer sparks regional fury
Jan 2, Tehran: Saudi Arabia's execution of the prominent Shia Cleric Sheik Nimr has sparked protests in The Sunni led Saudi Arabia and the region alike.
According to reports, protests have broken out early Sunday morning in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran and the Embassy itself was attacked and set on fire by protestors. Protests broke out in /Lebanon,Bahrain, Pakistan and as far as India's Kashmir.
Meanwhile, United States has expressed concern that Saudi Arabia's execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr could further exacerbate sectarian rivalry in the Middle East. The US State Department urged leaders throughout the region to redouble efforts to lower tensions.The 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.
The cleric had been convicted of crimes related to terrorism in October and is among the 47 other people who have been put to death on Saturday. However, a lot of people knew Nimr as a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority have long complained of marginalisation.
He was arrested two years ago, during which he was shot, had triggered days of unrest in the country. Nimr was an independent Shia Sheikh from al-Awamiyah, Eastern Province and he had gained popularity among youth for his critical views about the Saudi Arabian government.
In 2009, he had criticised Saudi authorities and suggested secession of the Eastern Province if Saudi Shias' rights were not better respected. and during the 2011–2012 Saudi Arabian protests, al-Nimr called for protestors to resist police bullets using "the roar of the word" rather than violence. He had predicted the overthrow of the government if repression continued and was seen to have taken the lead in the protests that year.
The Oslo Times