Nimr al-Nimr execution: Iranian cleric says death penalty will bring down Saudi Arabia's ruling family

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami’s comments came as Iran’s foreign minister warned Saudi Arabia would pay a ‘high price’ for the execution

One of Iran’s most senior clerics has predicted the fall of Saudi Arabia's ruling family following the kingdom's execution of Shi’ite preacher Nimr al-Nimr.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami’s comments came as Iran’s foreign minister warned Saudi Arabia would pay a ‘high price’ for following policies that led to the execution of al-Nimr and 46 others for ‘terrorism offences’.

Ayatollah Khatami who branded the House of Saud ‘treacherous’, told the Mehr news agency: "I have no doubt that this pure blood will stain the collar of the House of Saud and wipe them from the pages of history.

"The crime of executing Sheikh Nimr is part of a criminal pattern by this treacherous family... the Islamic world is expected to cry out and denounce this infamous regime as much as it can."

His comments follow a warning last year from Iran that the execution of al-Nimr would "cost Saudi Arabia dearly", while the sentiment was echoed by a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Hossein Jaber Ansari, following al-Nimr’s death.

He told the official IRNA news agency: "The Saudi government supports terrorist movements and extremists, but confronts domestic critics with oppression and execution... the Saudi government will pay a high price for following these policies."

The 2012 arrest of al-Nimr, who supported anti-government protests in the country’s Eastern Province in 2011, prompted civil unrest, which some fear could be repeated in the aftermath of the weekend’s mass execution.

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Al-Nimr had long been a critic of the Saudi government, jailed on a number of occasions previously for his involvement in protests, and was found guilty by the country’s Specialised Criminal Court in 2014 of crimes including calling for the collapse of the state and failing to pledge allegiance to the government.

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