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President Rouhani: Saudi sectarianism behind execution of Sheikh Nimr

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was in line with Riyadh’s sectarian policies which aim to spread terrorism and extremism.

In a message on Sunday, the Iranian president condemned Saudi Arabia’s “non-Islamic and inhuman” act of executing Sheikh Nimr, which was in “blatant violation of human rights and Islamic values.”

“Such a measure is in line with sectarian policies and aims to spread terrorism and extremism in the region and across the world, which have destabilized the region and waged war and conflicts in recent years,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian president emphasized that by executing Sheikh Nimr, the Saudi government has further tarnished its image among world countries, particularly Muslim states.

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. Nimr had rejected all the charges as baseless.

Elsewhere in his message, Rouhani said the Muslim Iranian nation, along with all Muslims across the world, slam Saudi Arabia’s execution of Sheikh Nimr but will not allow disobedient groups and individuals inside the country to use this crime as a pretext to conduct illegal acts and cause disgrace for the Islamic establishment.

The Iranian president added that all Iranian authorities are determined to take a firm action in dealing with any unlawful measure.

On Saturday evening, Iranian police prevented angry protesters from storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

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.

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.

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