Is Iran really in any position to be critical of Saudi Arabia's executions record?

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Sunday 03 January 2016 13:00

The website of Iran's supreme leader has posted a controversial cartoon comparing Saudi Arabia with Isis following the execution of 47 people in the kingdom yesterday.

The post on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's website follows criticism in Iran of the execution of a leading Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, which has sparked rising sectarian tensions across the Middle East.

As an angry crowd stormed the Saudi embassy in Iran's capital Tehran, Khamenei claimed the execution of Nimr al-Nimr was a "political error" and that Saudi politicians would face "divine vengeance".

While the death penalty is abhorrent, it is perhaps surprising that a regime which imprisons journalists, censors cartoonists and holds activists without charge for years on end should be in any position to moralise against another.

Oh and then there's this list of countries around the world that carry out the most executions...

Graph: Statista

While these figures show reported executions in 2014, Amnesty International reported that nearly 700 people were put to death in Iran in the first half of 2015 - or nearly three people a day.

Iran’s staggering execution toll... paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale.

  • Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International

Furthermore, the human rights group asserts that "death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality".

More: The British government's meek statement on Saudi Arabia executions