Iranians storm Saudi embassy after cleric’s execution

Iranians storm Saudi embassy after cleric's execution

TEHRAN, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Following the execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, protesters ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran, setting fire to part of the building.

The New York Times reported protesters gathered outside of the embassy and began throwing Molotov cocktails at the building. They proceed to break windows and smash furniture.

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was executed along with 46 others convicted of terrorism-related offenses in Saudi Arabia Saturday. The mass-execution one of the largest in Saudi Arabia in decades. The Saudi kingdom executed 157 people in 2015, its most in nearly 20 years.

Sheikh Nimr was a vocal critic of the monarchy. During the Arab Spring, Shiite protesters adopted Nimr as a symbolic leader. Because of this, his execution is seen as part of a rivalry. Amnesty International had warned of the impending execution in November.

Swift condemnation came from the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen, from politicians and clerics in Iraq, and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Hundreds of Shiites marched in eastern Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Bahrain, an ally of Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, defended the Saudi kingdom.

Elsewhere in Iran, the Saudi flag was torn down from the consulate in the city of Mashhad.

More protests are planned for Sunday in Tehran.

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