RIYADH, June 1 (Reuters) – Clerics in Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia attacked minority Shi’ites in a statement on Sunday saying Lebanon’s Hezbollah was posturing against Israel to hide an anti-Sunni agenda.
The Saudi government and religious establishment has watched with alarm as the Lebanese Shi’ite group’s popularity rose in the Arab world since forcing Israel to withdraw in south Lebanon in 2000 and surviving an Israeli military onslaught in 2006.
Although most Arabs are Sunni Muslims, Hezbollah is generally popular in the region. Saudi Arabia sees the group, which is funded by Shi’ite Iran, as an extension of Iranian power.
“Many Muslims have been fooled by the Shi’ites’ claims to be championing Islam and challenging the Jews and Americans and Hezbollah’s claims in Lebanon,” the statement distributed on Islamic websites said.
“Those who believe their claims have not realized the reality of the infidel bases of their faith … It was the rejectionist Shi’ites who began the practice of visiting graves and building shrines,” it said, citing a major concern of Saudi Arabia’s particular brand of Islam, often termed Wahhabism.
“They (Shi’ites) humiliate Sunnis whenever they have the chance, in Iran and Iraq. They are destabilizing Muslim countries as happened during pilgrimage and in Yemen.”
Some members of a Shi’ite sect in north Yemen, to the south of Saudi Arabia, are locked in rebellion there. Iranian pilgrims making political statements have often clashed with Saudi authorities during the haj pilgrimage.
Hezbollah and its allies won a bigger seat in government after street fighting broke out between government and opposition militias last month, further alarming Riyadh.
The statement was signed by 22 clerics including the leading independent religious scholars Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak and Abdullah bin Jabreen.
The Grand Mufti, who represents the government’s position, was not a signatory but he was quoted in the media during last month’s fighting in Lebanon saying groups who raise the banner of Islam were exposing the country to the danger of Israeli reprisals, but he did not specify Hezbollah by name
Commentary: “infidel bases of their faith“. There we go, here is the pure Wahabi view of Shia Islam.
Idiots ! who listens to them anyway ?, when they did not lift a finger for Palestine being raped in front of them , or iraq , or the crimes and chaos in somalia , but they bark when AL Saoud mafia gives them the Order . they must be so mad that Hezbollah has more support in the Arab world than those idiot sunni Leaders who shame the Islamic ummah for supporting and siding with a criminals like Bush . Yuk
I could not agree more with you: you are totally correct here. These self-righteous clowns never did *anything* for Palestine, never resisted the Zionist occupation or the Empire’s policies in any way and that is precisely what makes them so hateful of Hezbollah, Iran and Hamas. They are what somebody called Hizbshekelim – the party of corruption and money, not the party of God.
I once lived in Saudi Arabia for three years with my husband and children and we never dared to openly acknowledge that we were of the Shia faith. During that period of time 9/11 took place and so did the attack on Iraq in which we could here military jets flying overhead on their way to Iraq.
I always felt like I was living in a nation lead by hypocrites and never felt comfortable being there. It is just a shame that Mecca and Medina are under the custodianship of such a hypocritical leadership.
Fatima hit the nail on the head. Those completely without courage, discipline or true faith despise those who have it in abundance. Hizbollah highlights to the Muslim masses the corruption of their “leadership” and their complicity. But how do the masses feel? I mentioned already Egypt, where Nasrallah and the Hizb are legend. Saudi is not so clear. While traveling last year I ran into a Saudi tourist and had a pleasant conversation. Alas, he seemed to tow his government’s line.