Demonstrators broke into Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran before being cleared away by the police, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported, after gathering there to denounce the kingdom for executing the cleric.
Images shared on social media showed Iranian protesters starting fires at the embassy building. One photograph showed a room with smashed furniture purportedly inside the building.
Soon afterwards, more tweets showed what appeared to be police clearing the protesters from the embassy.
Earlier, photos on social media showed protesters scaling the fence of the Saudi consultae in Mashad and taking down the Saudi flag.
Video shows protesters inside Saudi embassy in Tehran pic.twitter.com/DEmsNLI6ZG
— Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 2, 2016
The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on protesters to respect the diplomatic premises, according to the Entekhab news website. Saudi Arabia executed Nimr alongside dozens of Al-Qaida members on Saturday, signaling intolerance of jihadism and minority Shi’ite Muslim violence while stirring a rise in sectarian tensions across the region.
Saudi Arabia says it has summoned Iran’s envoy to the kingdom to protest critical comments by Iranian authorities over the execution.
In a statement late Saturday by the Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Foreign Ministry described the Iranian criticism of its judicial system as “blatant interference” in its internal affairs.
Earlier, the Iranian Foreign Ministry had summoned the Saudi envoy in Tehran to protest the execution of the Shiite cleric. Iran’s parliament speaker warned that the execution would prompt “a maelstrom” in Saudi Arabia.
Scores of Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province marched through Nimr’s home district of Qatif shouting “down with the Al Saud”, and several hundred gathered in nearby Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled island kingdom allied to Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. State Department said is concerned that the Saudi execution risks exacerbating sectarian tensions.
In a statement, John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, also urged the government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, permit peaceful expression of dissent and reiterated the need for all leaders in the region to “redouble efforts” to de-escalate regional tensions.
Lebanon’s Supreme Islamic Shi’ite Council called Nimr’s execution a “grave mistake”, and the Hezbollah group termed it an assassination as Shi’ites took to the streets in protest from Tehran to Kashmir.
In Iraq, former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki predicted that Nimr’s execution would lead to the downfall of the Saudi government.
Shi’ite leaders in Kuwait, Lebanon, and Yemen also warned of reprisals, in a signal that sectarian conflicts across the Middle East could be further inflamed.
Most of the 47 executed were convicted of Al-Qaida attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago, but four, including prominent cleric Nimr, were Shi’ite Muslims accused of shooting policemen during anti-government protests in recent years.
The executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, with four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading the condemned. The bodies were then hanged from gibbets in the most severe form of punishment available under the kingdom’s Sharia Islamic law.