Saudi Arabia’s execution of top Shia cleric sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr has drawn angry reactions from Muslim bodies worldwide.
On Saturday, Lebanon’s Supreme Islamic Shia Council condemned Riyadh’s execution of Sheikh Nimr as a “grave mistake.”
The Saudi Interior Ministry said Sheikh Nimr along with 46 others on Saturday after they were convicted of “terrorism”
“The execution of Sheikh Nimr was an execution of reason, moderation and dialogue,” the council’s Vice President Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan said in a statement.
Some figures in Lebanon have also blasted the Saudi regime for putting the leading Shia figure to death despite international calls for Riyadh to overturn his death ruling.
In a similar move, Pakistan’s Muslims Unity Assembly also decried the move as a challenge against millions of Muslims worldwide.
In Yemen, the Houthi Ansarullah movement also described Sheikh Nimr as a “holy warrior” and said the Saudi execution of the top Shia cleric is a “flagrant violation of human rights.”
Elsewhere in Bahrain, hundreds of people held a protest rally in the capital, Manama, to voice their outrage at the execution of the Shia cleric.
Eyewitnesses said Bahraini security forces used tear gas to disperse demonstrators, who were carrying pictures of the cleric, in the village of Abu-Saiba, west of Manama.
Widespread protest rallies are expected to be held around the word to condemn Riyadh, which is already beefing up security in the Shia-dominated Qatif region of Eastern Province, according to reports.
According to Lebanon’s Al-Ahd news network, Saudi Arabia has evacuated all police offices in the Shia-majority town of Qatif following the announcement of the execution of Sheikh Nimr and 47 others on Saturday.
Sheikh Nimr, a critic of the Riyadh regime, 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 instigating unrest and undermining the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches and defending political prisoners. He had rejected all the charges as baseless.
In 2014, a Saudi court sentenced Sheikh Nimr to death, provoking widespread global condemnations. The sentence was upheld last March by the appeal court of Saudi Arabia.
The new announcement comes a day after a tally by The Associated Press, which was based on reports by Amnesty International, showed Saudi Arabia had carried out 157 executions in 2015, most of which were beheading by sword. This is a record of the most capital punishments conducted in a single year since 1995.
The Saudi kingdom has long been under fire at the international level for its grim human rights record.