Iran reacted with fury to the execution of prominent Saudi Shi'ite sheikh Nimr Baqr Al-Nimr by the Saudi authorities on January 2, 2016. Iranian leaders threatened that his death would be avenged, declared that the Saudi regime was nearing its end, allowed enraged protestors to set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and changed the names of streets where Saudi representations are located to Sheikh Nimr Street.
The following are excerpts from reactions by Iranian officials and regime bodies.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threatened Saudi Arabia with divine retribution: "The blood of this oppressed martyr, which was spilled unjustly, will have a rapid impact, and the hand of divine retribution will seize the Saudi politicians by the throat. This oppressed senior cleric did not take the step of calling upon the [Saudi] people to take up arms [against their regime], nor did he plot in secret. All he did was openly criticize [the Saudi regime]." Khamenei added that the execution was "a political error on the part of the Saudi regime. God will not relinquish [avenging] the blood of the innocent. The blood spilled unjustly will rapidly deliver a blow to the politicians and officials of this [Saudi] regime." Khamenei's websites in Persian and English posted an image of Al-Nimr, with a quote from Khamenei's statements (see below).
On the same day, Khamenei's English-language website also posted the following images, which equate Saudi Arabia with ISIS.
The front-page headline of Kayhan's January 3 issue read: "The martyring of Ayatollah Al-Nimr was green-lighted by America; The Aal Sa'ud [Saudi Arabia's royal family] have dug their own grave."
Kayhan front page, January 3, 2016
Kayhan's editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, who is close to Supreme Leader Khamenei, called to take revenge on Saudi princes visiting the U.S. or Europe. In a January 3 article, he described an anti-Iranian and anti-Shi'ite camp consisting of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, and claimed that Turkish President Erdogan had collaborated with the Saudi King in Al-Nimr's execution. He wrote: "The execution of Ayatollah Nimr was a frightful crime on the part of the Saudis, who are the willing slaves of the U.S. This heralds a truth that cannot be denied, namely that the Aal Sa'ud family is coming to the end of its road in the course of its evil and criminal life, and therefore it is going mad.
"The Saudis do not deny that they are very afraid for their future. Looking around the region... they see Islamic Iran, whose power is growing from day to day and who is liberating the outposts that were captured by the forces of arrogance [i.e., the U.S.] and handed over to their proxies in the region, such as Aal Sa'ud, and Aal Khalifa [the Bahraini royal family]. Iran is the only powerful opponent of ISIS and of other takfiri terrorist groups that were cultivated by the joint camp of Israel, Aal Sa'ud and Erdogan... Saudi Arabia knows that it has reached the end of its evil, treasonous and criminal life. Today, the more it struggles, the deeper it will sink into the quagmire...
"Saudi Arabia is experiencing the exact same thing that is happening in the West Bank. Undoubtedly, if Saudi Arabia is not more criminal than the Zionist regime, it is [at least] no different from it. Hence, the Muslims must treat the Saudi princes, officials and military sites just as the Palestinian revolutionaries [treat the Zionist enemy]. In particular, we can express a hope that the hedonistic and murderous Saudi princes, who periodically visit America and Europe to travel and to party, will be targets for [those wishing to] avenge the death of Ayatollah Nimr, whose blood was spilled unjustly, [and those wishing to avenge] the blood of the oppressed women and children in Yemen, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and [all other victims of] Aal Sa'ud's crimes and murders."
Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi said: "Since its establishment by the criminal Britons, the cursed and defiled Saudi regime has done nothing but kill Muslims. The Muslims, both Shi'ite and Sunni, will surely avenge Sheikh Nimr's death, [punishing] especially the main elements [responsible for his execution], namely Britain, the U.S. and Israel."
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) also issued a statement condemning the Saudi regime, which stated that "the demise of the Saudi regime is imminent" and that it "will surely pay a heavy price for this crime [of executing Al-Nimr]." The statement said further that "the criminal act of Aal Sa'udÔÇª is part of a Zionist plot intended to widen the rift between the nations of Islam and between the Shi'a and the Sunna... Nimr's execution... demonstrates that these crimes emanate from the Wahhabi philosophy and the takfiri Salafi stream whose banner is now borne by ISIS... The blood of the martyred Nimr will cause the banner of this prominent cleric, the banner of resistance and fighting, to be raised aloft in all parts of the Hijaz by the Islamic nation in Saudi Arabia, especially by the zealous youth of the Hijaz. In the near future [this youth] will take powerful revenge upon the criminal Aal Sa'ud and will topple the very foundations of this hated anti-Islamic regime."
The head of the Majlis national security and foreign policy committee, Ala Al-Din Boroujerdi, said that "there is no reason for the diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia to be good," and added: "I asked Foreign Minister [Javad] Zarif to minimize the staff at the Saudi embassy in Tehran."
As another propaganda measure, the Iranian regime changed the names of the streets in Tehran and Mashhad where Saudi representations are located to Sheikh Nimr Street (see photo below).
After, on January 2, enraged protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran and broke into the Saudi consulate in Mashhad in northern Iran, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, Hossein Jaber-Ansari, called on Iranians to avoid congregating in front of Saudi representations in the country, but expressed understanding for their feelings.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani condemned Al-Nimr's execution, but also the Iranian "extremists" who had rioted outside the Saudi representations, calling their behavior "a disgrace to the [Iranian] regime and a blow to Iran's honor."
The Tabnak website claimed that the torching of the Saudi embassy had been carried out by Saudis in the embassy itself.
Rioters besiege Saudi embassy in Tehran (Image: Facebook.com/Iran.Military, January 3, 2016)
The Fars news agency, which is close to the IRGC, published the following cartoons in response to Al-Nimr's execution:
"Aal Sa'ud beheads itself"
"Aal Sa'ud's sword beheads the martyr Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr"
"Aal Sa'ud, the servants of the Zionists, execute Sheikh Nimr"
"Aal Sa'ud's method of governing"
 Farsi.khamenei.ir, January 3, 2016.
 Farsi.khamenei.ir, english.khamenei.ir, January 3, 2016.
 English.khamenei.ir, January 2, 2016.
 Kayhan (Iran), January 3, 2016.
 Kayhan (Iran), January 3, 2016.
 Isna.ir/fa/news, January 3, 2016.
 Sepahnews.ir, January 2, 2016.
 Iribnews.ir, January 2, 2016.
 Facebook.com/Iran.Military, January 3, 2016.
 Mfa.ir (Iranian foreign ministry website), January 3, 2016.
 President.ir/fa, January 3, 2016.
 Tabnak.ir, January 3, 2016.
 Fars (Iran), January 3, 2016.