An Iraqi Shiite cleric warned Saudi Arabia about the dire consequences of the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and called for his immediate freedom.
“We strongly ask the Saudi Arabian authorities to abolish the death penalty of Ayatollah Nimr immediately and prepare the ground for his freedom,” Abdul Mehdi al-Karbalai, the spokesman for the Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ali al-Sistani, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
He also cautioned against dire consequences of possible execution of Sheikh Nimr, saying that the Saudi kingdom’s move can fuel the flames of current disputes, “which will only serve the interests of enemies of Islam and harm the interests of Muslim world.”
“His death sentence is neither legal nor legitimate,” Karbalai stated.
His comments came after media outlets cited Sheikh Nimr’s brother as reporting on Wednesday that a Saudi court has upheld the death sentence handed down to the Shiite cleric.
Sheikh Nimr was detained in July 2012 following demonstrations that erupted in February 2011 in Qatif region. He is accused of delivering anti-regime speeches and defending political prisoners.
His arrest has sparked widespread protests in Saudi Arabia, leaving several people dead.