Hezbollah to mark Saudi Shia cleric execution anniversary

Hezbollah to mark execution of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr
2 min read
11 January, 2022
Hezbollah is set to mark six years since the execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Wednesday, amid diplomatic tensions between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia
Nimr al-Nimr was executed on 2 January 2016 [Getty]

Members of Hezbollah will on Wednesday mark six years since the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Al-Nimr, according to reports, amid heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

The event will mark six years since Riyadh's execution of Al-Nimr, a popular figure among Saudi Shia Muslims whose execution sparked angry protests in neighbouring Iran.

The Hezbollah event - dubbed "the Opposition Meeting in the Arabian Peninsula" - will be held in the Mujtaba area of Beirut's southern suburbs.

It appears to be in response to the launch of the so-called "National Council to Confront the Iranian Occupation", which was recently formed by around 200 signatories with its head office led by former Lebanese MP and minister Ahmed Fatfat, according to Al-Modon.

Saudi Arabia executed Al-Nimr, a renowned Shia cleric who often criticised the ruling family, on 2 January 2016, on "terrorism" charges.

He was executed due to his support of the mass anti-government protests that took place in the Eastern province of Qatif, where a Shia majority have long complained of marginalisation.

Wednesday's event will take place amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, where the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused the Gulf country of "terrorism" and "spreading ISIS ideology" in a recent speech.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Nasrallah's comments did "not serve the national interest" or "represent the country's official stance".

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Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have been experiencing a series of diplomatic rifts since late October 2021.

The Saudi government withdrew its ambassador to Lebanon following remarks by Lebanon's then Minister of Information, George Kordahi, who criticised the Gulf country’s involvement in the Yemeni civil war.

Saudi Arabia, along with other GCC countries, also banned Lebanese imports, dealing a blow to Lebanon's struggling economy.

On 15 December, Lebanon’s Interior Minister Bassam Al-Mawlawi ordered the deportation of non-Lebanese members of the outlawed Shia-majority Bahraini opposition party Al-Wefaq to avoid more tension with Gulf countries.

The Gulf has concerns over growing dominance in Lebanese politics by the Shia paramilitary movement Hezbollah, which the GCC classifies as a terrorist organisation.