Al-Nimr execution: Middle East sectarian destabilization continues

By Sumantra Maitra
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 5, 2016
Adjust font size:

Iranians gather during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, at Imam Hossein Square in the capital Tehran on Jan. 4, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

Saudi Arabia has executed, in one day, 47 prisoners including the topmost Shia cleric of the Kingdom, Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr. This is the first state execution carried out by Saudi Arabia in 2016, and the single largest one day mass execution since the 1979 Mecca Mosque capture, when 63 were executed. At least 157 people were put to death last year, a big increase from the 90 people killed in 2014. Most of those executed were allegedly behind Al Qaeda attacks from 2003 and 2004, even though the cases were on extremely thin ground, not to mention that Al-Nimr was a Shia cleric, and Shias are considered chosen enemies and heretics of Al Qaeda.

Nimr was a vocal critic of the ruling Al Saud family and the Saudi government. The Kingdom accused him of being an Iranian agent and charged him with seeking to overthrow the House of Sauds.

The reactions have been strong to this sudden unexpected development. The Guardian reported that the Saudi interior ministry execution statement began with verses from the Qur'an justifying the act, while state television ran footage of the aftermath of al-Qaida attacks in the last decade. The Saudi grand mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, also appeared on television to justify the execution.

In Bahrain, protesters have clashed with police using petrol bombs and the police fired tear gas shells into the crowd. In Pakistan, the Shia minorities protested against the Saudi consulate. In Indian Kashmir, Shia protesters called for a day of mourning. Lebanon and Yemen's Houthis have denounced this act, and has vowed revenge against the House of Saudis. Iran, the most powerful Shia state in the region and the regional counterbalance to Sunni Saudi Arabia, has stated that the act would cost Saudi Arabia "dearly" and the Grand Ayatollah has tweeted a picture of Al-Nimr calling for revolution. The Iranian foreign ministry also stated that this shows Saudi hypocrisy as they continue to support "Takfiri" (heretics) abroad, and suppress dissent inside the Saudi Arabian state. This seems bold coming from Iran, but is nonetheless a valid point.

The major questions being raised are as to why Saudi Arabia is still heading the United Nations human rights council, and if they are, how credible is the UN as an organization anymore? Amnesty International and other organizations have condemned these New Year executions as cold blooded murder, which is heavily detrimental to Middle Eastern peace. Iran has already threatened retaliation for a long time, and according to unconfirmed reports, the country is planning to counter execute Sunni preachers.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from