Iranian protesters ransacked and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran after Saudi Arabia executed an outspoken Shiite cleric who had criticized the kingdom’s treatment of its Shiite minority.
WND The cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was among 47 men executed in Saudi Arabia on terrorism-related charges, drawing condemnation from Iran and its allies in the region, and sparking fears that sectarian tensions could rise across the Middle East.
In addition, a Saudi consulate in Mashad was stormed by Iranian protesters and the Saudi flag was reportedly taken down. The attacks Saturday, just hours after Saudi Arabia executed Nimr al-Nimr, a top Shi’ite cleric along with 46 others in 12 different cities. Some were killed by firing squad, while others were beheaded amid strong protests by the Iranian government.
Most of the 47 executed were convicted of Al-Qaida attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago, but four, including prominent cleric Nimr, were Shi’ite Muslims accused of shooting policemen during anti-government protests in recent years.
The executions coincided with increased attacks in Saudi Arabia by the jihadists of the Islamic State and an escalating rivalry between the Sunni monarchy and Shiite Iran that is playing out in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. Sheikh Nimr was an outspoken critic of the Saudi monarchy and was adopted as a symbolic leader by Shiite protesters in several Persian Gulf countries during the Arab Spring uprisings.