Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has stated that Iran’s leaders are not Muslims and regard Sunnis as their enemy.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh was reacting to Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who denounced Saudi Arabia’s handling of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah.
Ayatollah Khamenei accused the Saudi state of being American and Zionist agents and “puny and belittled devils.” In response, the Grand Mufti said the claims were “not surprising” and accused Iran’s leaders of being Zoroastrians, an ancient pre-Islamic Iranian religion.
In remarks published on Wednesday, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al ash-Sheikh said: “We must understand these are not Muslims. They are the son of the Magi and their hostility towards Muslims is an old one, especially with the People of the Tradition [Sunnis].”
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarid, tweeted in rerply: “Indeed; no resemblance between Islam of Iranians & most Muslims & bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric & Saudi terror masters preach.”
Saudi Arabia’s population is nearly 90 per cent Sunni and has long been at odds with the 90 per cent Shia Iran over political issues across the Middle East. Saudi accuses Iran of trying to export its “Shia revolution,” whereas Iran accuses Saudi of promoting sectarianism and says it is against Wahabism rather than Sunni Islam.
It’s thought that at least 2,426 people, including 464 Iranians, were killed in the Mina stampede last year, although according to Saudi authorities, only 769 were killed.