Protesters outside the Saudi embassy in London

Protesters in London demonstrate against Saudi executions

Protesters gathers outside Saudi embassy in London to condemn execution of leading Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the most vocal critic of the ruling Al Saud among the Shi’ite minority.

(ITN) – Protesters gathered outside the Saudi embassy in London on Saturday (January 2) to condemn the execution of leading Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric and dozens of al Qaeda members on Saturday, signaling it would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni jihadists or minority Shi’ites, and stirring sectarian anger across the region.

Hundreds of Shi’ite Muslims marched through Qatif district of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province in protest at the execution of cleric Nimr al-Nimr, an eyewitness said. They chanted “down with the Al Saud”, the name of the ruling Saudi royal family.

In London, dozens of protesters gathered with banners in their hands to condemn the Saudi execution.

“From a Shia perspective he is our scholar, he is very important to us, he is out honor and they knew that taking a very strong stance by killing someone as well as someone who has done absolutely nothing wrong they are sending a really clear message out to the people and we have come here to say that we won’t take it,” one of the protesters said.

“My personal reaction, I am disgusted, I am outraged, it is an abomination that a human rights defender in this day and age of human rights can be executed for a crime no other than freedom of expression,” another protester said.

Nimr, the most vocal critic of the ruling Al Saud among the Shi’ite minority, had come to be seen as a leader of the sect’s younger activists, who rejected the quiet approach of older community leaders for failing to achieve equality with Sunnis.

Four, including Nimr, were Shi’ites accused of involvement in shooting policemen. But most of the 47 executed in the kingdom’s biggest mass execution for decades were Sunnis convicted of al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago.

The executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. In December, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula threatened to retaliate against Saudi Arabia for any execution of its members.