Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned about the repercussions of extremism in the Middle East following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a top Shia cleric.
Zarif held separate phone conversations on Sunday with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini as well as with a number of foreign ministers from regional states.
Zarif reiterated Iran’s condemnation of the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, noting that the Shiite cleric’s execution was in line with divisive and pro-terrorism policies which have been ravaging the region and the world.
The Iranian foreign minister also underscored the need for coordinated regional and international efforts to halt measures against religious groups and tribalism-based policies.
Zarif also said that the Islamic Republic remains fully committed to safeguarding diplomatic missions it hosts.
Sheikh Nimr had been arrested in 2012 in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite-majority Eastern Province, which was the scene of peaceful anti-regime demonstrations at the time. He had been charged with instigating unrest and undermining the kingdom’s security. Nimr had rejected the charges as baseless.
In 2014, a Saudi court sentenced the clergyman to death, provoking widespread global condemnations. Back then, the UK-based rights body Amnesty International called the sentence “appalling,” saying the verdict should be quashed since it was politically motivated.