News / Middle East

    Shi'ite Muslims Outraged by Saudi Execution of Cleric

    Iranian security stand guard to protect Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran, Iran, while a group of demonstrators gathered to protest execution of a Shi'ite cleric in Saudi Arabia, Jan. 3, 2016.
    Iranian security stand guard to protect Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran, Iran, while a group of demonstrators gathered to protest execution of a Shi'ite cleric in Saudi Arabia, Jan. 3, 2016.

    Iran's supreme leader says Saudi Arabia will face "divine revenge" because of its execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shi'ite critic of Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday "The unjustly spilt blood of this martyr will have quick consequences."  The supreme leader said Nimr "neither encouraged people into armed action nor secretly conspired for plots, but the only thing he did was utter public criticism rising from his religious zeal."

    Iran's Revolutionary Guard said in a statement Sunday Nimr's death would lead to the "downfall" of Saudi Arabia's monarchy.  The Guard described Nimr's execution as a "medieval act of savagery."

    Nimr's execution has caused international outrage and a serious escalation of diplomatic tensions in the region, with unrest predicted in Shia-majority areas.

    Nimr, who was among 47 people executed Saturday in Saudi Arabia, was a widely revered Shi'ite Muslim cleric convicted in 2014 of sedition and other charges and sentenced to death. He was an outspoken critic of the kingdom's ruling al-Saud family and a key leader of Shi'ite protests in Saudi Arabia in 2011.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply dismayed" by the execution of Nimr and the 46 other people, and called for "calm and restraint in reaction" to the executions. 

    The U.S. warned that Nimr's death would only add to strife between religious sects in the region.

    "We are particularly concerned that the execution of prominent Shia cleric and political activist Nimr al-Nimr risks exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Saturday in a statement.

    Shia-majority Iran, which made frequent requests to the Saudis to pardon Nimr, had some of the strongest reaction to the news, saying Saudi Arabia would pay a high price for the execution. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, strongly attacked Saudi Arabia for ramping up sectarian tensions in the region.

    The speaker of the Iranian parliament said Saudi Arabia, which is founded upon an ultraconservative Sunni ideology known as Wahhabism, would face a "maelstrom'' from which it would not escape.

    A man shouts anti-Saudi slogans as he takes part in a protest against the execution of Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, in the village of Sanabis, west of Manama, Bahrain, Jan. 2, 2016.
    A man shouts anti-Saudi slogans as he takes part in a protest against the execution of Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, in the village of Sanabis, west of Manama, Bahrain, Jan. 2, 2016.

    Iran also summoned the Saudi envoy to Tehran to protest Nimr's killing.

    Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Mansour Ben Turki called Iran's reaction "irresponsible," and the government summoned Iran's envoy to the kingdom to protest the critical Iranian reaction

    Soon afterward, protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, smashing furniture and setting fires before being cleared out by police.

    Soon after, protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, smashing furniture and setting fires before being cleared out by police.  Authorities said Sunday 40 suspects have been arrested in connection with the rampage.  Tehran's prosecutor said an investigation is ongoing and more arrests could follow. 

    Water is sprayed on a fire set at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, Jan. 2, 2016.
    Water is sprayed on a fire set at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, Jan. 2, 2016.

    A top Shi'ite cleric in Lebanon warned there would be a backlash because of Nimr's execution. Sheikh Abdul-Amir Kabalan, said, "This is a crime at a human level and will have repercussions in the coming days."

    Iran and Saudi Arabia have been vying for leadership in the Muslim world since Iran's 1979 revolution, which elevated hard-line Shi'ite clerics to power. The U.S. war in Iraq further enflamed religious and ethnic tensions by leading to a Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad and a crucial shift in the sectarian balance of power in the region.

    Bahraini protesters carry a banner reading, "We will not bow! #alNimr," during a demonstration against Saudi Arabia's execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, in Daih, Bahrain, Jan. 2, 2016.
    Bahraini protesters carry a banner reading, "We will not bow! #alNimr," during a demonstration against Saudi Arabia's execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, in Daih, Bahrain, Jan. 2, 2016.

    After Arab Spring protests erupted in 2011, Saudi Arabia and Iran entered into a fierce proxy war in Syria, where they support opposite sides of the conflict, and in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been bombing Iranian-allied rebels since March. They also support opposing political groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain.

    Protests over the Nimr execution were held in Bahrain, where police used tear gas on the crowds, as well as in India and outside the Saudi Embassy in London.

    More demonstrations were being planned for Sunday in Lebanon and Tehran, where the majority of outrage is expected to be focused.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: anynmous from: usa
    January 03, 2016 10:05 AM
    How the world tolerate the behavior of Saudi (the devil kingdom? Saudi supported all terrorist organization including isis. Saudi is actively fiancé Madrassa which produce jihadist such as Taliban. Saudi is wildlife refugee who are deported from native country for their radical view and hate messages . Saudi are manipulated oil industry for their benefit. Saudi has lobbying in us which resulted for bad involvement in middle East . Saudi is responsible for Iraq war .Saudi is responsible for Syria civil war. Saudi attacked and killed civilian Shia in Yemen Saudi people are getting the Egyptian woman and use them as a sex slaves. Saudi is behind prostitution business in Egypt. the prince of Saudi caught for sexual misconduct in LA. Saudi prince killed his male lover in England . said is behind 9/11

    by: Solaris
    January 03, 2016 9:18 AM
    Shi'ite means : religious tolerance, Sunni means :bigotry and extremism which uses the religion as a tool to justify murder. After Arabs conquest of the middle east in more than thousand years ago some people living there under the Arabs rein adopted a more tolerable Islam which is called Shi'ite, they brought together the righteous element of Islam and their old customs.

    by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet - Africa
    January 03, 2016 3:55 AM
    Mind you, that is the US favoured regime! US is involved and non of its criticisms must be taken serious. But, I bet you; the dooms days lie ahead for the evil nations.

    by: Quoc Tuan
    January 02, 2016 9:39 PM
    Continuing to support a terrist and dictatorship family in Saudi Arabia will back fire on innocent Americans. Stop spreading lies for the terrorists, Obama!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora