Saudi Arabian Embassy In Tehran On Fire After Muslim Cleric Executed

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Protesters attacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran

The Saudi embassy in Tehran has come under attack from petrol bomb throwers amid a backlash against the execution of a prominent Shia cleric.

Video footage posted on Twitter shows Molotov cocktails hitting the front of the mission and other pictures on social media show the building on fire. There was fierce criticism of Saudi Arabia after it executed Nimr al Nimr and 46 other people at prisons around the country. 

The 56-year-old was a driving force behind the anti-government protests in the east of the Sunni-ruled country during the Arab Spring in 2011. Iran’s foreign ministry called for calm as police dispersed a large crowd that gathered outside the embassy in the Iranian capital, some of whom later broke into the building. 

There have also been outbreaks of unrest in Bahrain, where demonstrators took to the streets, and in the eastern Iranian city of Mashhad, where the Saudi consulate was the scene of protests. Iran is ruled by a majority Shia-led government.

The Saudi army prepares to go into Qatif
The Saudi army prepares to go into Qatif

Pictures posted on social media showed what appeared to be troops moving into Saudi areas where the Shia minority were due to protest. It came despite an appeal by Mr Nimr’s brother who called for a “peaceful” response to the execution, saying the family did not want to see further bloodshed.

The United States warned Saudi Arabia, which has a Sunni Muslim majority, that its execution of Mr Nimr “risks exacerbating sectarian tensions.”

The list of those executed did not include Mr Nimr’s nephew, Ali al Nimr, who was 17 when he was arrested in 2012. Reports he had been sentenced to death sparked global outrage because of his age and the severity of the punishment.