US concerned execution of Shi'ite cleric in Saudi Arabia will exacerbate sectarian tensions

January 3, 2016 01:00


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WASHINGTON - The US government expressed concern on Saturday that Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric, could exacerbate sectarian tensions, and urged all leaders in the Middle East to "redouble efforts" to de-escalate regional tensions.

"We reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases," John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said in a statement, after the execution of Nimr al-Nimr and 46 other people.

The executions, which also included dozens of al Qaeda members, signaled that the Riyadh government would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni jihadists or minority Shi'ites. They stirred sectarian anger, including a march by hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims in Saudi Arabia's eastern province.

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