Iran’s Rouhani: Saudi Arabia can’t ‘cover its crime by severing political … – CNN

In his remarks in Tehran with Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen, Rouhani defended those who have reacted angrily to the mass execution. This includes this weekend’s storming and torching of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, which spurred Riyadh to cut diplomatic ties.

“It is only natural that a crime against Islamic and human rights will be met with reaction from public opinion,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani: Europe has a human rights obligation to act

The United Nations Security Council has condemned “in the strongest terms” the attacks against the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and another Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran after the execution of the cleric infuriated protesters there.

It also called on Iran “to protect diplomatic and consular premises against any intrusion or damage.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jaberi Ansari has said his country is committed to protecting diplomatic missions and reiterated that no Saudi diplomats were harmed — or even present — during this weekend’s attack.

The U.N. Security Council did not address the execution of Nimr, who was convicted of inciting sectarian strife, sedition and other charges after his 2012 arrest.

But others have focused on the cleric, calling Saudi Arabia’s decision unjust and taking action in response.

In addition to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Bahrain, where a Sunni monarch rules over a predominantly Shiite nation, also severed diplomatic ties with Iran. The United Arab Emirates recalled its ambassador, while Sudan expelled the Iranian ambassador and the entire Iranian diplomatic mission in the country.

The President of Iran, a country that has been criticized over its over human rights record, called on other countries outside the region to also take a stand.

“Criticism should not be responded to with beheading,” President Rouhani said. “… We hope that European countries, which always react to issues of human rights, would act on their human rights-related obligations in this case, too.”

World powers weigh in

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers to calm tensions. White House press secretary Josh Earnest echoed those sentiments.

“We are urging all sides to show some restraint and to not further inflame tensions that are on quite vivid display in the region,” he said Monday in a briefing with reporters.

State Department spokesman John Kirby, meanwhile, urged engagement to reach “a resolution to these things peacefully, diplomatically and without violence.”

China called for “dialogue and negotiations.” Russia suggested the nations “show restraint.”

France asked that the powers “do everything in their power to prevent the exacerbation of sectarian and religious tensions.”

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested diplomacy should rule the moment.

“Turkey calls for abandoning the language of threats and a return to the language of diplomacy and asks that caution be used so that the tensions between the two countries does not negatively reflect on the region’s security, stability and peacefulness,” the ministry said on its website.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talked to foreign ministers for both nations Sunday and called the breakdown in relations “deeply worrying.”

Where do we go from here?

It was just weeks ago, after months of prodding, that the United States was able to get foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and Iran to sit at the same table with the United States and other countries to discuss a road map to end the bloody Syrian civil war.

Iran has been a longtime supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia has provided the rebel factions fighting Assad with financial assistance and weapons.

It’s nothing new that the two countries aren’t seeing eye-to-eye.

The schism dates back 14 centuries and has to do with disputes over who should succeed the Prophet Mohammed as leader of the Islamic faith.

Sunni Islam has gone on to dominate the faith — nearly 90% of the world’s Muslims are Sunnis.

The Saudis champion the Sunni branch of the faith, while Iran backs the Shia side.

The execution of the cleric only exacerbated their differences and will play out in the coming weeks.

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