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The influential cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr (at right), a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family, was among 47 people put to death in one day. The executions have provoked international outrage and sharply escalated diplomatic tensions in the region.

Juan Cole

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The foremost Sunni Muslim seat of learning, al-Azhar University in Cairo, has stirred controversy by issuing a considered legal opinion condemning the Shiite militias or “Popular Mobilization Forces” that are now fighting alongside the Iraq army to take Tikrit back from the Islamic State group.

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