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Iran-Egypt rapprochement impossible amid Shia-Sunni dichotomy

Until Iran abandons, or at least significantly mitigates its parochial sectarian approach to the predominantly Sunni Muslim region, prospects for a dramatic breakthrough in Egyptian-Iranian relations will remain modest at best

Khalid Amayreh , Tuesday 5 Feb 2013
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Under normal circumstances, closer relations between Tehran and Cairo would be beneficial for both countries as well as for the Muslim peoples of the Middle East.

At the popular level, most Arabs had welcomed the Khomeini revolution. Speaking for myself, I remember that while studying at the University of Oklahoma in 1978, I once was mistaken for an Iranian student when the local college newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, had my picture spread on its front page, with the explanatory text beneath reading "this Iranian student must be quite happy now that Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlavi has left Tehran's Mehrabad airport."

I still vividly remember how I frequently joined Iranian students in their often noisy anti-Shah demonstrations on US campuses. Some of the Farsi slogans that we shouted then were "Istiklal Azadi, Hukomati Islami" (Independence , Freedom, Islamic government) and "Tauh Margi Shahi Khaen, Nehzat Idameh Dorad"  (Until the death of the treacherous Shah, the revolution will continue).

A lot of water has passed through the Nile since then and a lot of pleasant and unpleasant happenings occurred on both side of the isle, which might prompt people with too much good will to say dismissingly "let bygones be bygones."

However, there are two hard inextricably entwined issues spoiling Iranian-Arab relation, issues that must be resolved honestly and decisively.

The first issue is the ostensible Iranian determination to spread Shiism at the expense of Sunni Islam in a number of Arab countries including Egypt. This brazenly daring and short-sighted policy underscores the fact that Iran's clerical establishment doesn't recognise the legitimacy of Sunni Islam. Iranian spokespersons would swear that this is not the case. But the money and efforts Iran has "invested" in cajoling some ignorant and poor Sunni Muslims to convert to Shiism belie and refute any denials to this effect.

In fact, Iran has a shameful record in treating Sunni Muslims both inside and outside Iran. Even today, 1400 years after the Prophet Muhammed, the two main Shia theological seminaries in Najaf and Qum refuse rather vehemently to issue Fatwas or edicts prohibiting the habitual cursing by Shias of the Kholafa'ao al-Rashedeen (the rightly-guided Caliphs).

This is not a minor issue by any standard of imagination. Indeed, one can state with all honesty and certitude that this is the most important obstacle impeding genuine historical-Shia reconciliation.

In the final analysis, Islamic solidarity, let alone brotherhood, cannot be reached if one Muslim says "Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with him" whereas another Muslim keeps saying "Abu Bakr may Allah curse him."

Similarly, the Iranian clerical establishment should instruct its followers to stop adoring and venerating the murderer of Omar Ibn al-Khattabh. The disgusting scenes of Shias glorifying Abu Loa'loaal Majousi's memorial tomb speaks tonnes, even mountains of anti-Sunni hatred and animosity.

Another point, until this day, there is no place of worship for Sunni Muslims in Tehran, although thousands of Tehranis are Sunni.

It is more than mind-boggling that Rome allowed Muslims to build a large Mosque while the capital of the Islamic revolution is fanatically refusing to allow Sunni Muslims, including diplomats from dozens of predominantly Sunni states, to have their own mosque.

There is a small story I would like to relate before leaving this point. Before his death a few years ago, Sheikh Ahmed Waeli, a prominent Shia scholar from Iraq, tried to justify the Shia tradition of cursing Sunni Muslim symbols. He claimed that the cursing was initiated in response to the cursing of Ali by the Umayyad dynasty.

With all due respect, this is a big lie. True Sunni Muslims reject and disown anyone cursing Imam Ali, the Shias' quasi-god figure who is also the fourth of the previously mentioned rightly guided caliphs adored by Sunni Muslims.

But while Sunni Muslims resolutely disown the cursers of Ali and his household, the Shia Ithna Asharis (the twelvers) enthusiastically glorify and revere with utmost respect those who malign the religious symbols of Sunni Islam. So where is the golden maxim of mutual respect?

Indeed, how can any honest Shia demand understanding, let alone respect, from Sunni Muslims when Shias refuse to shun their repulsive ancient habit of cursing the companions of the Prophet?

The Shias claim, I believe mendaciously, that they are following the family of the Prophet Muhammed. Well, I challenge them to follow the family of the Prophet. If they do, truly and sincerely, we won't hear them curse the companions and wives of the Prophet since neither Ali nor his sons and grandsons ever cursed or spoke ill of the companions of the prophet.

Actually, the opposite is true, as Ali and his progeny befriended and even intermarried with the Companions of the Prophet. (Ali had his own daughter married to Omar).

The other main issue hindering a constructive modus vivendi between Iran and Egypt is the ongoing dark embrace and cordial alliance between Iran's clerical regime and Syria's genocidal sectarian junta.

Needless to say, much of the blood of the estimated 65,000 Syrians so far murdered by the Hitler of Damascus is decidedly on Iranian hands.

It is Iran, along with Russia and some other international players, that has prolonged the life-span of the nefarious regime in Damascus.

I have been living under the Israeli military occupation ever since it started in 1967, and in all honesty I can claim that Israel has not done to us in 46 years persecution and repression what Bashar Al-Assad has done to his people and country in two years.

I know that what I have said is probably politically incorrect and might be used against the Palestinian cause by Zionist propagandists. But the truth must be proclaimed, even at the risk of committing a propaganda blunder.

There is no doubt in my mind, that the murderous Iranian complicity in the Syrian genocide is the ultimate expression of Iranian hatred of and ill-will toward Sunni Muslims. I am sorry that Iranian maliciousness and nefariousness have reached this point. But Iran has only itself to blame. Iran bears full responsibility for the reactions and boomerang effects its criminal involvement in Syria has generated among Sunni Muslims. The scars will take a long time to heal, if ever.

The writer is an American-educated journalist living in Occupied Palestine.
 

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Harun Elbinawi
07-02-2013 07:47am
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IRAN-EGYPTIAN RAPPROCHEMENT
Iran-Egyptian Rapprochement: There are two categories of forces that would not like to see strong ties between Iran and Egypt and they will do anything with in their power to sabotage it. 1-Anglo-Zionist-Western Imperialism. 2-Despotic Gulf Monarchies. The two are related but the first are no only the most mortal enemies of Islam and Muslims today but enemies of world oppressed,their eternal wish is to see Muslim nations are at logger-heads with one another as this suits their vital interest and the perpetuation of their hegemonic policies in the Islamic world. This group created the Zionist entity in Palestine due to the weakness and divisions between Muslims;if Muslims are strong and united this criminal entity will varnish.These arrogant powers are very conscious of this reality so they will do anything with in their power to prevent this from happening. The despotic Arab Monarchies will tell their audience that their problem with Iran is sectarian but it is far from
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Hassaan
06-02-2013 09:38pm
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Great article!
God bless you! Finally someone talks about the crux of the dispute between the two sects rather than just throwing it by an empty label of "sectarianism" .
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peace
06-02-2013 06:18pm
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to be fair
that is a deep theological discussion and from suni sources we know that sayida fatima did not speak to and was upset with the first 3 caliphs till she passed away. also, we know that this one wife went to war and killed countless muslims who were followers of Ali. it's up to each individual to take sides and chose what they see as acceptable. personally i am like the prophet described in bukhari: i get upset at anybody who upsets fatimah, the holy daughter of the prophet. and i am against anybody who attacks imam ali as well. some make excuses and excuses, and attack people who care about the prophets family and commemorate their persecution and neglect and. it's no coincidence that Imam Ali did not pledge allegiance to the first caliph until his wife (the mother of all of prophet's descendants) passed away. according to suni sources the caliphate was imposed by forceby people who did not attend the funeral prayer of the prophet. there is enough in suni sources to support the inte
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Ahmed Ha'aeri, Shiraz, Iran
07-02-2013 09:42pm
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The Shia claim they follow Ali, but they actually follow satan
your just regurtitating Shhite lies. Ali was a cordial friend of Omar and Abu Bakr. Ali had his daughter Hafsa married to omar. Does one give his daughter in marriage to his worst enemy. The Shiite religion is based on lies and hatred.
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Naim Naqvi
06-02-2013 05:52am
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Both are to be blamed
I think the issue of succession of Prophet (PBUH)is more a theological one. It could have been left for scholars to discuss. It didn't happen that way. There is hardly any issue between the two communities which occupies that space. While Sunnies are distancing themselves from Ahl-ul-bait, Shias are insisting upon traditions which expose the brute rulers of Ummayads dynasty which massacred the progeny or household of Prophet (PBUH). Every enemy of Hazrat Ali Kaaram Allaho Wajho and Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain is now more veneered than ever before. It is not a one way traffic. Saudi riyals are doing wonders in taking control of all Free Thinking Islamic institutions of Islamic world. No one knows where it will end.
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Subhanullah Ibrahim, Pakistan
07-02-2013 09:34pm
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Naim is not telling the truth
Naim: Imam Husein was murdered by his own Shiites, and Sunnis don't venerate the enemies of ahlu al bayt, they people you worship as gods.
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rezvan
06-02-2013 03:03am
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Two sides to every story
The writer surely can only speak for himself and not all Sunnis just as Iran cannot claim to speak for all Shia. There have been fatwas issued by Ayatollah Khamanei aagainst cursing of the companions and the wives of the Prophet. But some Sunnis regard even Muawia and Yazid which is unacceptable. You cannot equal these with the first four caliphs who comparatively sought to lead by piety not by tyranny.
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Zehra Hakimi, Tehran
07-02-2013 09:30pm
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The author of the article is correct
If true, why did the two Shiite semanaries in Najaf and Qum refus to outlaw the hateful habit of cursing the Khulafa and the wives of the Prophet. The Sunnis don't venerate anyone that curse Ali. But the Shia celebrate everyone that curses Omar and Abu Bakr and Aisha.
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Emir
06-02-2013 01:02am
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Pathetic propaganda
You sound just like a extremist hatching. Soon you will promote suicide bombings i guess. Telling the world its "ok" to kill them self. As long as you kill some Shias at the same time. I really hope mankind have more brains then get brainwashed by you and your fantasy story's. There is alot about shaytan in the quran. And people like you confirm it. My Allah forgive you.
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Adham Janabi, Baghdad
07-02-2013 09:50pm
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Ya le-tharatel Hussein
It is the Iranian and Hizbullah Shiite fanatics who are massacring Syrian children and invoking the name of Hussein And Ali.In Syria, Iranian mercenaries slaughter Sunni children and the shout: Husein, Ali. Abbas, Mahdi!!
Ashraf Nouri, Lahor
07-02-2013 09:25pm
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The author is telling the truth
I think Shia is an invention. The Sia religion is based on cursing the companions of the Prophet. Don't attack the man for telling the truth.
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Ahmed M Ibrahim
05-02-2013 02:06pm
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Sunni Shia relations
Hats off to Mr.Amayreh for telling the truth. Truth cannot be politically misused by any propaganda.Heart of the matter is that Shiism is not a religious belief but a political ideology which has run out of its usefulness. The Clerical regime in Iran is by itself a Satanic kingdom, which has revived the monster of Shiite ideology to its present level. The Shah of Iran was a very sensible and cultured person who never indulged in religious conflicts. His friendship and admiration of President Sadat is a glorious example of his statesmanship. Ahmed Najad could never acquire this status because of his bad tongue and devilish mind. Iran's support to Assad is mainly because of the Shiite connection rather than for any other reason. Now when this gamble has failed Iran wants to trap Egypt into its net of deceit and ruin its prospects in the civilized world.
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