General Mohammad Reza Naqdi said that: “If Al-Saud commits such a crime against Sheikh Al-Nimr, its move will not remain unanswered and Muslims will change this world to a hell for them.”
He added that “the death sentence should be seen as a verdict issued by a blasphemous and sinister regime,” rather than as an act by “a Sunni government against a top Shiite cleric”.
The Iranian news agency said that Sheikh Al-Nimr “is accused of delivering anti-government speeches and defending political prisoners”.
The Guardian newspaper reported that the senior Shiite cleric led protests in Qatif at the height of the Arab uprisings in 2011. He was convicted last Wednesday of sedition and other charges in a case that has been followed closely by Shiites in the kingdom and in neighbouring Bahrain.
“State prosecutors [have] reportedly asked for Al-Nimr to be crucified,” the newspaper said, noting that the court’s verdict has sparked an international outcry.
“Saudi Arabia’s harsh treatment of a prominent Shiite cleric is only adding to existing sectarian discord and unrest,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi Arabia’s path to stability in the eastern province lies in ending systematic discrimination against Shiite citizens, not in death sentences.”
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