DIVINE REVENGE; Iranian Ayatollah warns of retribution after Saudis execute cleric.
Byline: stephen white email@example.com
SAUDI Arabia will face divine revenge for executing a leading cleric, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned.
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was one of 47 prisoners put to death for terror offences at the weekend.
Khamenei, who described the Shia cleric as a martyr, claimed he was killed because of his opposition to Saudi's Sunni rulers.
He said: "This oppressed scholar had neither invited people to armed movement nor was involved in covert plots."
Khamenei's website carried a picture of a Saudi executioner next to one of notorious Isis butcher Jihadi John, with a caption which read: "Any differences?" Nimr, who was in his 50s, was a figurehead in anti-government protests that erupted in the wake of the Arab Spring before his arrest in 2012.
In Tehran, a mob responded to his death by storming the Saudi embassy and setting it on fire late on Saturday. Police drove the protesters back and made 40 arrests.
Nimr's death has worsened long-running tensions between the two nations. Most of the 47 executed were Sunnis convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda terror attacks in recent years.
Among them was Adel al-Dhubaiti, sentenced for the 2004 shooting that left freelance cameraman Simon Cumbers dead and BBC journalist Frank Gardner critically injured.
Saudi Arabia carried out more than 150 executions last year. No information was released about how the prisoners died last weekend but Saudi Arabia's usual method is beheading by sword.
Protest rallies were held in Lebanon, India, Saudi's eastern province and outside the Saudi embassy in London.
The UK Government have joined in the international outcry.
Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood said: "We are firmly opposed to the death penalty.
"We have stressed this to Saudi authorities and expressed our disappointment at the executions."
angeR Protesters in Beirut hold up placards of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was put to death in
VOW Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei compared the Saudi regime to Isis