Iran Criticizes Saudi Crackdown on Protesters, Fars Says

Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on protesters in its oil-rich Eastern Province after Saudi security forces arrested dissident Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in the al-Qatif area, the state-run Fars news agency reported.

Shiite-led Iran is “concerned by violent actions carried out by the Saudi forces against religious figures and people,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying yesterday. Saudi officials must respond to “the legitimate demands of the public and refrain from using violence against people,” he said, according to the report.

Security forces shot and injured al-Nimr during clashes with his supporters in the village of Awwamiya as he tried to escape, the Riyadh-based Saudi Press Agency said on July 8, citing Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki. Al-Nimr was taken to a hospital, it said.

While Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia largely escaped the unrest that spread across the Arab world last year, minority Shiite demonstrators have clashed this year with security forces in Awwamiya, al-Qatif and other eastern towns.

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