Iran,  Islam,  Saudi Arabia

Saudis’ execution of Shia cleric provokes outrage in Iran

An editor for the “reformist” Iranian newspaper Shargh has been live-tweeting the destruction of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in the wake of the Sunni Saudi regime’s execution of leading Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Scores marched through Nimr’s home district of Qatif shouting “down with the Al Saud” and, in the neighboring country of Bahrain, police fired tear gas at several dozen people who gathered to protest the news, The Associated Press reported.
Lebanon’s Supreme Islamic Shiite Council called the execution a “grave mistake,” and the Hezbollah group termed it an assassination. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, an establishment cleric in largely Shiite rival Iran, said repercussions against the Sunni Saudi rulers would “wipe them from the pages of history.”

Hmm. Sounds familiar.

It’s hard to believe that the attack on the Saudi embassy could have happened without the tacit approval of at least some element of the Iranian regime.

Ah. But the Supreme Leader knows who is really at fault.

Of course when it comes to executing opponents of the regime and oppressing minorities, the Islamic Republic is no slouch itself.

As my mother used to say: “They should talk.”

It should be an interesting year for Iranian-Saudi and Sunni-Shia relations.

Update: Despite the anger his execution has provoked among some despicable elements, al-Nimr seems to have been worthy of some respect and admiration. The Washington Post reports:

Nimr had long served as the voice of Saudi Arabia’s widely discriminated-against Shiite minority, but he shot to prominence during the 2011 protests, publicly articulating the sentiments not only of Shiites but also of many others in the region demanding change after decades of authoritarian rule.

He had consistently advocated nonviolence, and his views transcended the Sunni-Shiite divide, said Maryam al-Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights activist with the Gulf Center for Human Rights, who lives in exile in Denmark.

“He said Sunnis and Shiites should unite and that anyone who supports the oppressors should be condemned,” she said, citing a 2012 speech Nimr delivered in which he condemned both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is from the Shiite-affiliated Alawite sect and is backed by Iran, and the region’s Sunni authoritarian leaders, including the Saudi royal family.

“This was a big part of why he became problematic for the Saudi regime, because he refused to abide by the sectarian discourse that is basically enforced on everyone,” Khawaja said.