Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran early on Sunday as Shi’ite Muslim Iran reacted with fury to Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric.
Demonstrators who had massed at the embassy gates to protest against cleric Nimr al-Nimr’s execution broke into the embassy and started fires before being cleared away by the police, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported.
Pictures posted on Twitter showed parts of the interior on fire and smashed furniture inside one office.
Shortly afterwards, Iran’s foreign ministry issued a statement calling for calm and urging protesters to respect the diplomatic premises, the Entekhab news website reported.
Tehran’s police chief, Hossein Sajedinia, told ISNA that an unspecified number of “unruly elements” had been arrested for attacking the embassy with petrol bombs and rocks.
Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards had promised “harsh revenge” against the Saudi Sunni royal dynasty for Saturday’s execution of Nimr, considered a terrorist by Riyadh but hailed in Iran as a champion of the rights of Saudi Arabia’s marginalized Shi’ite minority.
Nimr, the most vocal critic of the dynasty among the Shi’ite minority, had come to be seen as a leader of the sect’s younger activists, who had tired of the failure of older, more measured leaders to achieve equality with Sunnis.
Although most of the 47 men killed in the kingdom’s biggest mass execution for decades were Sunnis convicted of al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago, it was Nimr and three other Shi’ites, all accused of involvement in shooting police, who attracted most attention in…