Angry protesters gathered outside the Saudi Embassy in London to condemn the recent executions in Saudi Arabia, and especially that of Shiite leader, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Al-Nimr was executed along with 47 men on terrorism-related charges, drawing condemnation and protests from Iran and its allies in the region.
Saudi officials said the mass execution, one of the largest in the kingdom in decades, was aimed at deterring violence against the state.
But analysts said the arrest of the cleric with hardened jihadis was a warning to domestic dissidents who could exacerbate sectarian tensions across the Middle East.
The executions were the first of 2016 following a year in which at least 157 people were put to death – the Muslim kingdom’s highest yearly total in two decades.
Criticism also came from Shiite politicians and clerics in Iraq, the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen and the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked” and “saddened” at al-Nimr’s execution.
I'm shocked & saddened at Sheikh Nimr's execution by Saudi authorities. Peaceful opposition is a fundamental right. Repression does not last— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) January 2, 2016
The executions have sparked protests around the region with a mob storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran and setting fire to parts of the building before they were dispersed by the police.In Bahrain, police fired teargas to control a crowd of protesters. There were also demonstrations in India.
Other protests have been planned in Lebanon and Iran.