Senior Iranian clerics have condemned Saudi Arabia's execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr despite international calls on Riyadh to revoke the religious figure’s death verdict.
Tehran’s interim Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said on Saturday the execution is in line with a litany of crimes committed by the Al Saud regime from the onset of its creation.
Khatami, who also serves as a member of the Assembly of Experts, highlighted other examples of Riyadh’s criminal acts, including its military campaign against Yemen, which he described as an “eternal stain of shame” in the history of the Al Saud dynasty.
The Saudi campaign against Yemen began on March 26. More than 7,500 people have died in the airstrikes ever since.
“I have no doubt that this pure blood will stain the collar of the House of Saud and wipe them from the pages of history,” the cleric added, calling on the Muslim world to take a stand against the killing of Sheikh Nimr.
Meanwhile, Ayatollah Abbas Ka’abi, another member of the Assembly of Experts, denounced the execution, saying the killing shows the Al Saud regime is desperate and on the verge of downfall.
“By executing this revolutionary Sheikh, Al Saud committed a great crime and folly,” he said.
Nimr, a cleric highly respected by the Saudi Shias, was attacked and arrested in the Qatif region of Eastern Province back in 2012 on charges of undermining the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches, and defending political prisoners. Nimr had denied the accusations.
In October 2014, a Saudi court sentenced Sheikh Nimr to death, provoking huge condemnations and criticism in the Middle East and the world. The death penalty was upheld by the Saudi court of appeals a year later.
The Shia figure’s execution has drawn angry reactions worldwide. Widespread protest rallies are expected to be held around the world to condemn Riyadh, which is already beefing up security in the Shia-dominated Qatif region of Eastern Province, according to reports.