Saudi Council of Senior Scholars condemns Iranian remarks

The execution of Nimr was criticized by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a prominent Iranian cleric

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The Saudi Council of Senior Scholars condemned on Sunday Iranian statements made in response to Saturday’s execution of 47 convicted terrorists, among them prominent Shiite preacher Nimr al-Nimr.

The Council, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, also “affirmed that the implementation of judicial rulings against criminals has been proven legally.”

The execution of Nimr was criticized by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a prominent Iranian cleric and a member of the Assembly of Experts, who predicted repercussions following the preacher's execution.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari also strongly condemned Riyadh for executing Nimr in statements carried by the official IRNA news agency. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani also condemned Nimr's death.

In October 2014, Nimr’s death sentence was confirmed after he had been found guilty of seeking "foreign meddling" in the kingdom, among other charges.

Meanwhile, protesters early Sunday afternoon stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran which led to images showing the diplomatic premises being set alight.

Saudi Arabia summoned Iran's ambassador on Saturday over what it described as Tehran’s “hostile” reaction to the executions, the state news agency SPA reported.

The foreign ministry statement, published on the official SPA news agency, said the kingdom handed the Iranian envoy a “strongly worded memorandum” to express "the kingdom's astonishment and its utter rejection of these hostile statements, which it deemed a blatant intervention in the kingdom's affairs."

Of the 47 executed, 45 were Saudis, as well as one Chadian and one Egyptian, according to a list of names and nationalities published by SPA.

Among the convicts were Fares al-Shuwail, said to be an al-Qaeda ideologue.

Meanwhile, Al-Azhar, which is one of the leading centers of Islamic learning, also said on Sunday that it stands in solidarity with Saudi Arabia and rejects Iranian interference.

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