Angry crowds of Iranians stormed the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran on Sunday morning in protest of the kingdom’s execution of a top Shiite cleric.
The mob hurled Molotov cocktails and overcame the embassy’s barricades, making it as far as climbing up to the roof, before being forced out by police. In a second incident, protesters set fire to the Saudi consulate in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city.
The attacks came a mere few hours after Saudi Arabia announced the execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a 56-year-old cleric who played a key role in anti-government protests since 2011. He studied theology in Iran for more than a decade.
Al-Nimr was part of a group of 47 Sunni and Shiite Muslims who were executed on Sunday on charges of terrorism.
Iran, a Shiite majority country, condemned the execution by Saudi Arabia, a Sunni majority country. The Islamic Republic said that “the Saudi government supports terrorist movements and extremists, but confronts domestic critics with oppression and execution.”
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari vowed that Saudi Arabia will “pay a high price for following these policies.”
In response to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry summoned Iran’s ambassador in Riyadh to object to the “aggressive Iranian statements on the legal sentences carried out today.”
“The Iranian regime is the last regime in the world that could accuse others of supporting terrorism, considering that (Iran) is a state that sponsors terror, and is condemned by the United Nations and many countries,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman, according to SPA news agency.
“Iran’s regime has no shame as it rants on human rights matters, even after it executed hundreds of Iranians last year without a clear legal basis.”
According to the Saudi interior ministry, al-Nimr and the 46 other executed men were found guilty of adopting radical “takfiri” ideology and taking part in various “criminal plots” as part of “terrorist organisations.”
Many of those executed had links to al-Qaeda and played a role in a string of deadly bombings throughout Saudi Arabia since 2003.