Protesters set fire to Saudi embassy in Iran after prominent cleric's execution

A crowd of Iranian protesters stormed and ransacked part of the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Saturday in response to the country's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. Photos and video footage posted to Twitter and Instagram show demonstrators smashing windows, ripping apart furniture and flags and torching parts of the building with Molotov cocktails. Iranian journalist Sobhan Hassanvand reported on Twitter that the protest was later quelled after police dispersed the crowd and made several arrests. Firefighters were also working to contain the blaze. See also: Saudi Arabia executes 47, including the critical Shiite cleric al-Nimr A separate set of protesters in Masshad, Iran's second most populous city, also set fire to the Saudi consulate, according to the Agence France-Presse. It's 23:50 here in Tehran, seems protest agnst Nimr execution continues outside Saudi embassy in Tehran right now — Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 2, 2016 VIDEO: 12:08 AM, seems molotov cocktail thrown at Saudi embassy building in Tehran, protest over al-Nimr execution — Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 2, 2016 #BREAKING: Angry protesters storm Saudi embassy in — Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 2, 2016 Protesters at Saudi embassy in Tehran, consulate in Mashhad avoid burning KSA flag as it bears Islamic inscription — Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 2, 2016 Group of protesters who stormed Saudi embassy arrested, policemen injured, calm situation at embassy; police say — Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 2, 2016 Photos from ISNA more telling about storming Saudi embassy in Tehran in protest to al-Nimr execution — Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 2, 2016 The cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was killed by the Saudi government along with 46 other prisoners convicted of terrorism charges in a series of executions that took place across the country on Saturday. Middle Eastern religious leaders denounced the decision, and the death triggered unrest across the region — particularly in countries with a Shiite majority like Iran, Iraq and Bahrain. Al-Nimr played a key role in the Arab Spring-inspired protests against the Saudi government that started in 2011 and was outspoken in his criticism of the way the kingdom treated its Shiite minority. Earlier on Saturday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei condemned the execution, posting a picture to his website that compared Saudi government officials to the Islamic State (ISIS). Iran's supreme leader @khamenei_ir posts this pic on his website after Saudi Arabia executes #NimrAlNimr + 46 others — Julia Macfarlane (@juliamacfarlane) January 2, 2016 Many analysts and government officials worried that al-Nimr's death could stoke sectarian violence across the region and exasperate tensions between the Sunni-led kingdom and Shiite-dominated Iran. In a statement late Saturday by the Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Foreign Ministry described the Iranian criticism of its judicial system as "blatant interference" in its internal affairs. Iran's parliament speaker warned that the controversial execution would prompt "a maelstrom" in Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of Saudis also marched through the streets of the country's Shiite-concentrated eastern province on Saturday, leading chants against the kingdom's ruling family. In Bahrain, police used tear gas to break up a crowd of dozens of demonstrators. Al-Nimr's family called the cleric a man of peaceful resistance and asked activists to exercise "restraint and self-control" in a a statement following his execution. "We denounce and condemn this unjust killing, which exemplifies the killing of wisdom, moderation, and betrayal of the peaceful means of protest the late Sheikh followed. He had always rejected and denounced the use of arms and violence, which is evidenced by his sermons and statements." The Associated Press and Mashable's Brittany Levine Beckman contributed to this report. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. window._msla=window.loadScriptAsync||function(src,id){if(document.getElementById(id))return;var js=document.createElement('script');;js.src=src;document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0].parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}; _msla("//","twitter_jssdk");