“We, the Sunni clerics of Iraq, condemn this action that has been taken by the Saudi officials and underline that Saudi Arabia should account for igniting the fire of new discord in the Muslim world,” the board of Fatwas of Iraqi Sunnis, a highly revered Sunni clerical body, said in a statement on Sunday.
The statement underlined that the Sunni society hoped that the death penalty issued for Sheikh Nimr wouldn’t have been executed as it pended the decision of the Saudi ruler.
The Sunni clerics, meantime, underscored that despite the will of the enemies, the Shiite and Sunni Muslims will further grow united after the incident.
After Saudi Arabia announced the news of Sheikh Nimr’s execution on Saturday, Sunni and Shiite Muslims from across the world rushed to condemn his killing, vowing revenge.
After the declaration, thousands of Bahraini people poured to the streets and chanted “death to the al-Saud” slogans.
The Bahrainis who also carried some placards to show their support for Sheikh Nimr warned Riyadh that shedding the cleric’s blood will not remain unanswered.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Ansarullah, Pakistan’s Shiite Assembly and tens of Sunni and Shiite figures, groups and movements across the world have rushed to condemn the Saudi regime, all underlining that Riyadh has poured oil to the flames of sectarian strife.
In Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in a statement condemned the killing of the prominent Muslim cleric, and said, “The execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr shows that Saudi Arabia insists on pouring oil to the flames of sectarian sedition.”
Sheikh Nimr’s execution was also condemned by Head of Iraq’s Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri who expressed deep regret after hearing the news.
The Iranian Sunni figures also showed reaction to the Saudi cleric’s killing by Saudi Arabia.
Molawi Abdolhamid Ismailzehi, the Friday prayers leader of Iran’s Southeastern city of Zahedan, expressed deep regret over Sheikh Nimr’s execution, and said under the conditions that the Muslim world needs unity, the Saudi officials should have refrained from his killing.
Also, representative of Iran’s Sunni-populated Southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan at the Assembly of Experts, Molawi Nazir Ahmad Salami, condemned Sheikh Nimr’s execution, and said, “There is no difference between the Shiites and Sunnis and any person who is opposed to tyranny and brutality should show reaction and deplore the Saudi measure.”
Also, Chairman of the Sunni Lawmakers’ Fraction at the Iranian parliament Abed Fattahi deplored the execution of Sheikh Nimr by Riyadh, and said the bells have now started ringing for the collapse of the Saudi regime.
He also said that Saudi Arabia’s support for the terrorists, the mismanagement of Mina incident, execution of Sheikh Nimr and several other crimes by Riyadh, “closed the door of negotiations with the political structure of Saudi Arabia”.
Their remarks came after the Iranian seminaries held a protest rally in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Saturday, and condemned execution of the Shiite cleric by chanting “death to al-Saud” slogans.
The Iranian foreign ministry also strongly deplored Riyadh for killing the prominent cleric, and said the move proved the Saudi officials’ “imprudence and irresponsibility”, underlining that the Saudi regime will pay a heavy price for this crime.
“While the extremist and Takfiri terrorists have deprived the regional and world nations of security and tranquility and threaten certain regional governments’ stability and existence, execution of a figure like Sheikh Nimr who didn’t have any instrument but words to pursue his political and religious goals merely shows the depth of imprudence and irresponsibility,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia executed 47 people on Saturday for terrorism, including Sheikh Nimr, the country’s Interior Ministry said in a statement. Most of those executed were said to be involved in a series of attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda between 2003 and 2006. 45 of those executed were of Saudi nationality, one Chadian, one Egyptian.
The Interior Ministry statement announcing the executions began with verses from the Quran, justifying the use of the death penalty, while state television showed footage of the aftermath of Al-Qaeda attacks over the last decade. Shortly afterward, Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh appeared on Saudi Arabian television, hailing the executions as just.
Al-Qaeda is the number one enemy of Shiite Muslims, and the Saudi television did not explain how it could link the footage to the execution of a Shiite leader who has been the target of ISIL and Al-Qaeda.
Iranian high-ranking officials had regularly deplored Riyadh for handing down death sentence to prominent Shiite cleric, warning that execution of the Sheikh Nimr would incur a heavy price in Saudi Arabia, and would set the stage for the fall of the Saudi regime.
Several rights activists had also warned Riyadh that execution of Sheikh Nimr would set fire to Saudi Arabia.
Heretofore, Al Saud had frequently said that it plans to execute Sheikh soon, but the kingdom delayed it every time. According to an informed source, the new King and his hawkish cabinet members mean to send a message to the Shiite community, dissidents and Iran through the move to show they are ready to pay any price in confrontation with Tehran. Though Iran has repeatedly denied any link with the Shiite dissidents in Saudi Arabia.
During the recent months, people across the world staged protest in support of Sheikh Nimr, calling for immediate release of the leader, warning the Wahhabi authorities against executing prominent Shiite cleric.
Nimr was attacked and arrested in the Qatif region of Eastern Province in July 2012, and has been charged with undermining the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches, and defending political prisoners. Nimr has denied the accusations.
In October 2014, a Saudi court sentenced Sheikh Nimr to death, provoking huge condemnations and criticism in the Middle East and the world.
On October 25, Nimr’s family confirmed that the Saudi Supreme Court and the Specialized Appeals Court had endorsed a death sentence issued last year against him for inciting sectarian strife and disobeying King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The cleric has denied the charges.
The Shiite cleric’s lawyer, Sadeq al-Jubran, had also said that Nimr could be executed as soon as the Saudi monarch approves his sentence.
Human rights organizations have condemned Saudi Arabia for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.