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Thousands Protest in Iraq against Sheikh Nimr Execution

5 January 2016 10:28


Thousands of protesters marched in Baghdad and Iraq’s southern cities on Monday condemning the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric by Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh’s execution on Saturday of the cleric, Nimr al-Nimr have driven up tension across the region.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran, and Bahrain and Sudan followed suit on Monday, two days after Iranian demonstrators stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in protest at Nimr’s death. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also downgraded its ties with Iran.

In Baghdad on Monday, demonstrators carrying portraits of Nimr rallied outside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified district that houses government departments and diplomatic representations, including the newly reopened Saudi embassy.

Police guarding the zone pushed back a group that attempted to cross a line of barbed wire as they chanted “Damned, damned be Al Saud!,” referring to the Saudi ruling family, Reuters reported.

Similar protests were held in Basra, southern Iraq’s biggest city, and in the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Kerbala.

“Killing Sheikh Nimr is the beginning of your downfall,” shouted demonstrators in Kerbala, addressing the Saudi ruling family. They carried a coffin symbolizing a funeral for the cleric.

In Basra, the demonstrators held signs urging the population, the traders and the government to boycott Saudi products, echoing similar calls by some politicians over the past two days.

Saudi Arabia last week reopened its embassy in Iraq, closed in 1990 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

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