GUARDIAN (UK) – The Iranian government and religious leaders across the Middle East have condemned Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric and warned of repercussions that could bring down the country’s royal family.
In a serious escalation of religious and diplomatic tensions in the region, councils and clerics in Iran, Yemen and Lebanon said the killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr would prompt widespread anger.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, accused Riyadh of hypocrisy. “The Saudi government supports terrorists and takfiri [radical Sunni] extremists, while executing and suppressing critics inside the country,” he told the Iranian state news agency.
In Bahrain, police fired teargas at several dozen people protesting against the cleric’s execution, a witness said. Demonstrators carrying pictures of Nimr faced security forces in a standoff in Abu-Saiba, a Shia village west of the capital, Manama.
Activists have called for protests in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, a sign that Nimr’s death may further inflame sectarian tensions in the Middle East.