San Jose Protest Over Saudi Execution of Shiite Cleric Nimr

Nimr protest (Shia Multimedia Team / Facebook)
Shia Multimedia Team / Facebook

On Sunday, dozens of Muslims in San Jose participated in a protest condemning the execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr Bagher al-Nimr, by the Saudi government on New Year’s Eve.

“Saudi King lost his mind. Stop supporting Saudi crime!” read one sign, which was pictured on Shia Multimedia Team’s Facebook page read. Another sign, held by a child, read “Saudi Arabia = ISIS”.

Nimr, who had a large following among Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiite youth, as well as in Bahrain, was a staunchly vocal opponent of the Sunni monarchies in both nations.

Saudi Arabia executed 46 prisoners in addition to Nimr, Including Al Qaeda detainees. In reaction to Nimr’s execution, an Iranian mob burned down the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on Saturday, ransacking the premises before using Molotov cocktails to set it ablaze. In response, Saudi Arabia discontinued its diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday, ordered all Iranian diplomats to exit the kingdom, and suspended all flights and trade between the two countries until further notice. Kuwait followed suit by withdrawing its ambassador to Iran.

Approximately 500,000 Iranians visit Saudi Arabia each year for the umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, two of Islam’s holiest sites. The umrah pilgrimage can be made at any time of the year, as opposed to Islam’s main pilgrimage, known as the hajj, which takes place after the holy month of Ramadan (between September 9 and September 14 this year). It is required of every Muslim to complete hajj, if they are able to do so, at least once in their lifetime.

Another picture from Sunday’s San Jose protest featured a trio of little boys who appeared to be between the ages of 11 and 14 standing in line with male adults as one of them held up a sign reading “Stop Saudi human rights violations.” Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are known for their rampant human rights violations.

Iran was projected to carry out over 1,000 executions by the end of 2015, signaling that more people have been executed under “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani than his extremist predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

On Monday, it was revealed that the Iranian regime suggested that the execution of Sheikh Nimr was a “Zionist conspiracy“, drawing upon Saudi Arabia’s recent expression of willingness to cooperate with Israel by allowing them to use their air space should the need to strike Iran arise.

Several other sings at the California protest read “We condemn Saudi funding of terrorism.” This past September, Breitbart News reported that Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan had stressed that Iran will continue providing material support to Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or any other terrorist group fighting the U.S. and Israel.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.