2009. A hugely perilious time


More sectarian violence looms ahead

By Alan Simons

DECEMBER 21, 2008 –  In religious terms, we tend to look at the Middle East conflict as solely between Jew and Muslim. By any stretch of one’s imagination, this is not entirely correct. As MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) this past week pointed out: ‘The conflict between Iran and Sunni countries – especially Saudi and Arabia Egypt – has escalated the tension between Sunnis and Shi’ites in the Muslim world. This escalation has had several manifestations.’

Here are two examples from MEMRI:

Cyberwar between Sunni and Shi’ite Hackers

The sectarian tension is also mirrored on the Internet. Hundreds of websites associated with either the Sunna or the Shi’a – including sites of clerics, papers and government ministries – have been hacked, and defaced with offensive messages and images. Among the prominent Sunni websites that have been attacked are the Saudi Al-Arabiya website, the website of former Saudi mufti ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz bin Baz, the website of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Religious Endowments, and a website of the Saudi Higher Education Ministry. The Shi’ite websites that have been targeted include those of the supreme Shi’ite religious authority in Iraq, Ayatollah ‘Ali Hussein Al-Sistani, a website of the Shi’ite community in Egypt, and many others.

Anti-Shi’ite Statements by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, made harsh anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iran statements in the Egyptian and Saudi press. He warned against the danger posed by the spread of the Shi’a in Sunni countries, characterizing it as part of Iran’s campaign for regional hegemony. He added that there was no possibility of rapprochement between Sunnis and Shi’ites, since there were fundamental principles of the Shi’ite faith that the Sunna could not accept. Despite strong criticism of his statements by Iranians and Shi’ites in the Gulf, Qaradawi only reiterated them, refusing to either retract them or apologize.

qaradawi1Although Qaradawi, seen here on the left, condemns Iran with his left hand, his right hand radically supports terrorist activities against Israel. In April 2004, he credited ‘Allah with providing Palestinians human bombs, instead of the planes, missiles and weapons that Zionists have.’ In addition, his Friday sermons at the Umar bin al-Khattab mosque, a government-sponsored mosque in Doha, have been regularly broadcast live on Qatar television. In a 2005 sermon, while speaking about notable Hamas leaders killed by Israel, Qaradawi asserted, ‘Their fate was paradise. They died martyrs. They met the death that every Muslim wishes for himself, which is martyrdom in the cause of God.’

Qaradawi has established a worldwide following through television appearances and by utilizing the Internet. He was relatively quick to take advantage of the Internet, launching a site in his name in 1997. The site includes several of his fatwas supporting terror. He has hosted a weekly television show called ‘Shariah and Life’ on the Arabic-language television news network, Al Jazeera, where he also expressed his support for terror.

Attacks on Sufis have intensified since Ahmadinejad took office

Qaradawi has been an avid caller to what he calls ‘Islamic Sufism’, praising those who practice it as pious. Last year, the government of Iran attacked the center of Sufis in Qom, and arrested a number Iranian Sufis. (jewishinfonews, November26, 2007) Although arresting the Iranian Sufis by the Islamic regime is relatively a new move, bothering the Sufis in the last 27 plus years is nothing new. The regime of Iran has always looked with suspicion and sometimes disgust towards the Sufis because the Sufis do not believe in any role for the Mullahs. They believe that people do not need any middleman for contacting God.  They see the Iranian Shi’ite Mullahs as corrupt people. Hence Qaradawi’s support for Sufism in Iran.

Qaradawi has also described Shi’ites in the Arab press as ‘liars, heretics and treacherous.’ In response, the Iranian Press Agency has described Qaradawi as ‘a spokesman for international Freemasonry and Jewish rabbis.’

Last week’s comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad haven’t helped out either, and will at best increase Qaradawi’s offensive language especially against Iranian Shi’ites. Ahmadinejad said ‘that no power would dare threaten Iran, as it has now become the greatest power in the region.’

Addressing a meeting of local clerics during his tour of the Iranian south western Khuzestan province on December 17, he said, ‘Today the world has accepted Iran as a major power and that is why no other power is capable of threatening the Iranian nation.’

He said that Iran’s enemies have been defeated in every battle against this nation, and that from now on they will gain nothing but failure.

He stressed that the Iranian nation would stay united against the world bullying powers [i.e. the U.S.] following the instructions of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

‘The Iranians’ resistance has broken equations made by the U.S. and other world bullying powers,’ Ahmadinejad stressed.

In 1931, Sir Winston Churchill in discussing the differences between Hindus vs. Muslims said: ‘While the Hindu elaborates his argument, the Muslim sharpens his sword. Between these two races and creeds…the gulf is impassable.’

As we approach 2009, the gulf between Sunni and Shi’ite, Jew and Muslim would also seem to be impassable.

And with that, I wish you a happy and peaceful 2009.

(Sources: The Anti-Defamation League, Fars News Service, MEMRI) http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA48008

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