A group of Iranian clerics and seminary students have held demonstrations in the holy cities of Qom and Mashhad in condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Addressing the demonstrators in Qom, Tehran’s Friday Prayers leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami, said Riyadh must immediately return the body of Sheikh Nimr to his family.
He added that Nimr’s execution will soon lead to the collapse of the Saudi regime.
The senior Iranian cleric added that Saudi Arabia has been the main contributor to the formation of Takfiri groups and is supporting them, while accusing Iran of backing terrorists.
The world must know that a bunch of inexperienced youths influenced by Zionists are running Saudi Arabia, Khatami said, adding, “Saudi Arabia is an ally to Zionists.”
On Saturday, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced that Sheikh Nimr along with 46 other people, who were convicted of being involved in “terrorism” and adopting a “Takfiri” ideology, had been executed.
Sheikh Nimr, a critic of the Riyadh regime, was 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.
Following the execution, authorities refused to hand over the cleric’s remains and buried them at an undisclosed cemetery, according to the Sheikh’s brother, Mohamed Nimr.
He said that the family intended to bury Nimr in his home town, Qatif.
Meanwhile, Tehran Governor General’s Office said in a statement that a number of political groups are scheduled to hold a demonstration in the Iranian capital at 3:00 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) on Sunday.
The statement also condemned as “illegal” a gathering outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Saturday night.
40 arrested over Saudi embassy gathering
Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on Sunday that 40 people have been identified and arrested for entering the premises of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
He said an investigation is now underway to track down other suspects.
On Saturday evening, Iranian police prevented angry protesters from storming the embassy.
According to reports, a number of protesters threw incendiary devices at the building causing minor damage. Police forces, deployed to keep order, dispersed the angry crowd.
In the northeastern city of Mashhad, protesters gathered outside the Saudi consulate.
Following the incident, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari called on people to refrain from gathering outside Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic buildings.
Jaberi Ansari added that Iran’s diplomatic police are responsible for dealing with any disturbance on Riyadh’s diplomatic locations and will act in accordance with this responsibility. The Iranian official, however, emphasized that the Iranian Foreign Ministry understands the sentiments over the execution of Sheikh Nimr.