With the rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the execution of Sheikh Nimir al-Nimir, there is a wonderfully ironic element as Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of stifling free speech by a cleric who merely disagreed with the regime. Iran of course is the government that has beaten and killed protesters calling for basic rights. We have regularly commented on Saudi Arabia’s medieval Sharia system as well as Iran’s suppression of free speech. Both countries regularly decapitate people and hang or crucify people in the name of Islamic values. Now both countries are exchanging insults about how the other is an extremist regime.
Al-Namir was a key leader in the Arab Spring protests in Saudi Arabia before his arrest in 2012.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the execution and said that al-Nimr “neither invited people to take up arms nor hatched covert plots. The only thing he did was public criticism.” You will recall that this is the same Khamenei who stood back and watched as a cartoonist was arrested for mocking the Parliament and protesters were beaten for seeking freedom.
In the meantime, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which has been routinely connected to terrorism, compared Saudi Arabia to ISIS and denounced Saudi Arabia’s “medieval act of savagery” in putting al-Nimir death. Sort of like the medieval savagery countenanced under Iran’s Sharia legal system like pouring acid in the eyes of prisoners or throwing men down rocky hills in a burlap bag.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went to Twitter to proclaim how “peaceful opposition is a fundamental right. Repression does not last.” That will come as welcomed news to those people rotting in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.