Saudi protestors have reportedly called for the removal of the royal family following the government’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 other individuals convicted of terror crimes. Residents of the country’s marginalized Eastern Province publicly demonstrated against the monarchy, criticizing the mass execution and expressing support for Sheikh Nimr. According to witnesses, some of the protesters marched through the city of Qatif chanting “down with al-Saud.”
While many of its own citizens denounce the executions, however, the Saudi government seems primarily focused on the reaction in foreign countries. After protestors attacked the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran, Saudi Arabia called for the immediate removal of Iranian diplomatic missions and officers stationed within the kingdom. Saudi authorities have given the Iranian diplomats 48 hours to remove themselves from their current posts in Riyadh. The governments of Bahrain and Sudan have joined in the dismissal of Iranian diplomats and the severance of diplomatic relations. Meanwhile, the UAE has also announced that it will “downgrade” its diplomatic relations with Iran, showing its apparent support for Saudi Arabia’s actions.
William Jay is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB