NEW YORK, Jan. 3 (UPI) — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for calm on Saturday in the wake of news that 47 people, including cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, had been executed by the Saudi Arabian government.
In statement, a U.N. spokesperson said Ban Ki-moon was “deeply dismayed” by the executions.
“Sheik al-Nimr and a number of the other prisoners executed had been convicted following trials that raised serious concerns over the nature of the charges and the fairness of the process,” the statement read.
The Saudi government announced the executions early Saturday, saying the prisoners had been convicted on terrorism charges.
All of those executed, including Sheik al-Nimr, are Shiite Muslims. Shiites are a minority in Saudi Arabia, significantly outnumbered by Sunni Muslims — as they are in most Middle Eastern nations.
The majority of Shiites live in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and India. News of the Saturdays executions set off a wave of sectarian violence in these countries. Protesters in Iran stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
“[Ban] deplores the violence by demonstrators against the Saudi Embassy in Tehran,” the U.N. spokesperson said.