Iran seeking release of Saudi-held cleric

Iran’s Foreign Ministry is making diplomatic efforts to secure the release of an Iranian cleric held in detention in Saudi Arabia, the ministry spokeswoman says.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s mission in Jeddah is…following up on the issue…and is making efforts to secure his complete release from Saudi Arabia’s judicial organs and his return to the country,” Marzieh Afkham said.

Saudi police arrested Ali Arefi in the holy city of Medina following his reaction to insults by a Saudi against Shia imams at a cemetery where some Shia figures are laid to rest.

Afkham said Saudi officials have agreed to release Arefi, who leads weekly Friday Prayers in the southeastern Iranian city of Jiroft, on bail.

Medina, located in western Saudi Arabia, is the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The Saudi kingdom has stepped up pressure on Shias in recent years. A court in Riyadh recently handed down the death penalty to Saudi Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Moreover, the Saudi regime recently sentenced several Shia Muslims to prison over what officials called “insulting the country’s national flag.”

Al-Nimr has been charged with disturbing the country’s security, giving anti-regime speeches, insulting King Abdullah in Friday Prayers sermons, and defending the political prisoners.

Protests against the Al Saud family have intensified since November 2011, when security forces opened fire on protesters in Qatif in Eastern Province, killing five people and leaving scores more injured.

Activists say there are over 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

Last October, rights group Amnesty International censured Saudi authorities for not addressing the “dire human rights situation” in the kingdom.

By Press TV


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