Calgarians to protest execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr

As protests erupt around the world and tensions rise between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Riyaz Khawaja says he was saddened by the news of the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Hussaini Association of Calgary plans city hall protest, invites people of 'all faiths and no faith'

Riyaz Khawaja, spokesperson for the Hussaini Association of Calgary, says the group is planning a protest at City Hall after the Saudi execution of Nimr al-Nimr. (Mike Symington/CBC)

As protests erupt around the world and tensions rise between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Calgarian Riyaz Khawaja said he was saddened by news of the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Khawaja is the spokesperson for the Hussaini Association of Calgary, a Shia Muslim organization which is planning a protest on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday in response to the killing of al-Nimr. Al-Nimr was among the 47 victims executed by the Saudi state on Jan. 2.

"He was vocal about democracy and rights for the people, for which he got arrested, he got tortured, he got shot in 2012. Then he got a death sentence from the Saudi regime," said Khawaja.

He wants to see action taken by the federal government on the human rights record of Saudi Arabia. 

"We would request our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the government to seriously take steps to stop the Saudi regime from doing such executions in future and stop promoting terrorism around the globe," he said, after accusing the kingdom of supporting groups like ISIS.

Protesters holding poster of Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr protest against his execution by Saudi authorities in the village of Sanabis, west of Manama, Bahrain January 3, 2016. (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters)

People of 'all faiths and no faith' invited

The Hussaini Association will be handing out flyers at C-Train stations in the hopes of attracting a large crowd on Wednesday, including people "of all faiths and no faith."

"International media, unfortunately, is framing this issue as a sectarian conflict between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudis, but I would like to clearly say that it is not sectarian at all," said Khawaja.

The protest will take place at 6 p.m.

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