Protesters call on Saudi Arabia not to execute top Shia cleric

SHAFAQNA – Protesters in Iran and India urged Saudi Arabia’s to halt plans for executing a prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Nimr al-Nimr.

Clerics protesting in the Iranian city of Qom said Saudi Arabia will pay a heavy price if it executes the religious leader, warning the execution could trigger “an earthquake” that would lead to the downfall of the Al Saud dynasty. His sentence is expected to be carried out soon.

The protesters also chanted slogans against the Saudi regime and called for the cleric’s immediate release.

Protests were also witnessed in India where scores of people poured into Lucknow streets to demand the cleric’s immediate release.

The protestors expressed their strong opposition to the Saudi government’s decision.

A Saudi court had in October 2014 sentenced Al Nimr to death after convicting the anti-government protest leader of “sedition”.

Al Nimr, a driving force behind 2011 protests against Saudi Arabia’s Sunni authorities, was also convicted of seeking “foreign meddling” in the country, a reference to Iran.

The court also found Nimr guilty of “disobeying” the kingdom’s rulers and taking up arms against security forces, his brother said.

Nimr had been on trial since March 2013.

Most of Saudi Arabia’s estimated two million Shias live in the east, where the vast majority of the wealthy kingdom’s oil reserves lie, and many complain of marginalisation in the Sunni majority country.

They began demonstrating in February 2011 after an outbreak of violence between Shia pilgrims and religious police in the holy city of Medina in western Saudi Arabia.

Protests escalated after the kingdom’s intervention in neighbouring Bahrain to quell similar protests and prop up the country’s Sunni monarchy.

Tensions increased in July 2012 when security forces wounded and arrested Al Nimr.

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