In the wake of Saudi Arabia recent events, such as sexual assaults on tow Iranian boys in Mecca, Iran's suspension of Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage) and Saudi Arabia invasion of Yemen, AhlulBayt News Agency held a news conference with Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, a member of supreme leader's Beseh and a member of the Supreme Council of the Ahlul Bayt World Assembly, in Qom.
The Background of the Regional Events
In the beginning of the conference Iranian cleric pointed out to the background of the regional events and said: "Historically, Iran's Islamic revolution happened Just at the time that Western analysts were on this belief that Iran is the safest area for protecting the interests of the West; but this safe place caught in the turbulence which could not be foreseen."
"After the victory of Iran's Islamic revolution the country became an independent country that was not under the domination of the West anymore. So some countries in the region have had this opportunity to be a gendarme of the region for serving the interests of West in the Middle East. On the other hand, some countries such as Israel, which had been deprived of the benefits of Iran's last regime, were seeking a replacement for it. At this time a latent partnership created between these two sides; Iran's Shah was gone and there were some opportunities and threats for the both sides", Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani added.
Islamic Republic of Iran Goes Far Beyond a Religion and Nationality
"Iran's Islamic Revolution came to happen for restoring religion in the broad sense and reviving Islam in the narrow sense. Although Iran's people and its leaders were all Shiites of Ahlul Bayt (AS), they were thinking of their revolution as an opportunity for protecting any oppressed people around the world, regardless of their religion. In contrast, the opponents of the Islamic revolution attempted to introduce Iran's revolution as a limited thing which it just worries about the Shiite sect", Ayatollah Hadavi stated.
The cleric added: "Iran's law and its more than three decades experiences indicate that the government of this country is the symbol of coexisting between religions and sects."
The Islamic Awakening Was Inspired by Iran's 1979 Revolution
Mentioning the international influence of Iran's Islamic Revolution, he said: "Iran's Islamic Revolution was exported to the other countries. In fact, ideological-revolutionary thoughts of Islamic revolution were received among the masses through the intellectuals and caused some developments in the region, such as Islamic awakening in recent years."
"For example, Tunisia was actually under domination of French. By doing so, they tried to protect their interests. There was a police state during the Presidency of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. There was no name of Islam. But this country was the initiator of the Islamic Awakening. Unfortunately, some countries in the region with collaboration of the west diverted this popular uprising from the mainstream, and as a result, various extremist movements grew", Hadavi added.
The Influence of Extremist Movements over the Islamic Awakening
The cleric continued, saying, "The financial supporting of some Arab countries, policies of some Westerns and Israel's conspiracies paved the way for creating extremist movements among Tunisian secular people -who were not even the fan of extremism- to the extent that Tunisia have changed now to a country that provided forces for ISIS terrorists in Syria; as we see Jihad al-Nikah (Sexual Jihad) was started from Tunisia."
"The enemies of the Islamic awakening were delighted by their progress in Syria, and were thinking they could reach to their targets very soon. Syria became the birthplace of one of the most dangerous groups in human history called "Da'esh". They occupied some regions of both Iraq and Syria. But Iran's stance on the issue changed the situation and they failed to reach their goals in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq they reached near Baghdad, however with the leadership of ulema, resistance of Iraqi people, management of Iraqi authorities and Iran's support they failed again," Hadavi added.
Yemen; The National-Political Movement of Ansarullah
In his speech Ayatollah Hadavi also referred to Yemen's crisis and said: "Houthis are a big tribe among the Zaidi branch of Shiite. In the early days they launched a military-ethnic movement against Ali Abdullah Saleh, but their movement gradually has changed into the national-political movement. Finally they were able to get the control of the country. But Saudi rulers were not happy by this change; they were worried that the Ansarullah movement would be a threat to them so started invasion of Yemen."
He also considered death of "King Abdullah" as a factor for Saudi's imprudence in handling the situation and said: "This attack was happened after the death of king Abdullah. When he was alive he came to the conclusion that Takfiri and extremist movements are harmful for the country, so before his death he began to set a limit on the activities of Saudi extremists. But, after his death the rule was changed in Saudi Arabia and extremist resumed their activities again."
Mecca and Medina Belong to all Muslims not just Saudi Arabia
"Mecca and Medina belong to all Muslims around the world, not just Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, we see Saudi government, by imposing his religious views, has made lots of problems and lots of limitations for the followers of all sects, not just Shiites. In these conditions Islamic countries or Islamic Cooperation Organization must form a council for managing pilgrimage affairs. This is what Imam Khomeini (RA) stressed in the past and said Saudi regime has no competence to manage the tow holy cities, Mecca and Medina," The cleric added at the end of his speech.
Questions and answers
After ayatollah Hadavi’s speech, some of the journalists present in the meeting asked their questions which are as follows:
Ali Shahidi from Gooyeh weekly: Is there any group of scholars in Islam who support ISIS scientifically and theoretically?
-The root of ISIS is in Wahhabism . The basis of their thoughts is Wahhabism . But this doesn't mean that Wahhabis support ISIS explicitly. Those who created ISIS were not of great scholars of Islam and ISIS has not sprung from a scientific thought. Their ideology is Wahhabism refined into ISIS. I speculate that ISIS has been created by Intelligent Services rather than ideological or religious groups because an unseen cooperation can be seen between ISIS and those services. The Western analyzers say that ISIS’s behavior is in line with the latest standards of political sciences while those in the group do not have this insight. The proof to this is that ISIS is seemingly against Saudi Arabia and vice versa but the statistics show that the central Saudi area, meaning Najd, has the most supporters of ISIS – nearly 80%. It was expected from ISIS to do some operation in Saudi Arabia especially after death of King Abdullah but nothing happened. ISIS identifies itself as the warrior of Islam but makes no move against Israel. These are enough to prove that ISIS has been created by Intelligent Services.
Mohammad Sa'di from the Arabic department of ABNA News Agency: what is the link between Muslim Brotherhood and Takfiri movements and ISIS?
-Muslim Brotherhood is one the branches of Salafi ideology. Salafi ideology has had many branches; Wahhabism is one of them. The Brotherhood has a lot in common with Salafism. The Brotherhood is an old movement which formed in a special time in Egypt and spread in the region. Hamas and the AKP in Turkey are branches of Brotherhood’s ideology. Politically this ideology is different from ISIS’s. The Brotherhood Has not been an extremist and Takfiri group like ISIS. In the time when the Brotherhood rose to power in Egypt one of the axes of pressure was these Takfiri groups. Therefore the Brotherhood, Wahhabi and ISIS’s ideology which is Salafi in the basis are close to each other.
Ali Shahidi from Gooyeh weekly: what is the link between Zaidiyya Shiites in Yemen and Houthis?
-The majority of the population in Yemen is consisted of Zaidiyya shiites and the minorities are Sunnis. Houthis are a Zaidiyya Shiite tribe. They were against the then government of Ali Abdollah Saleh who was a Zaidiyya Shiites Zaidi. Houthis, under oppression, carried out military operation against the government. After a while this group became a political-people’s movement. The Houthis power has nothing to do with religion as they have their supporters from different religions and creed. They took the power democratically. Houthis are not a tribal movement and Iran thinks that the Yemenis themselves have to solve the problems and Saudi’s invasion is interference in internal affairs as is Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Ahmad Mahboobi from the Farsi department of ABNA News Agency: do you think there has been a change in Zaidis that after decades of silence they have arisen to get to power?
-Some incidents happened to make the Houthis a political movement and people supported them. These incidents have not got much to do with ideological issues. The Houthis demand their violated rights and are politically mature enough to do so. Bahrain is the same. Bahrainis want their democratic political rights. This that most of them are Zaidis does not mean that their movement is and ideological movement. Actually it is a political one and people demand their rights.
Arvili from Alkowsar International Network: Some Shiite movements oppose Houthis on the grounds of criticizing Zaidism. How should this issue be addressed?
-Scholars can have debates and critique creeds but today our discussion is that if Zaidism is wrong or right. A group of people in Yemen who have been oppressed have arisen to demand their political rights regardless of their religion and if they are Zaidi or Sunni. Our support of Bahrain is not because they believe in 12 Imams (AS) as we support Palestinians knowing that they are not Shiites. Those who criticize Zaidism should know that this is in Wahhabism ’s interest because it is Zaidism’s opponent in Yemen. Weakening of Houthis in the current situation means strengthening of Wahhabis which is not in Shiite’s interest.
Ali Shahidi from Gooyeh Weekly: If Saudi’s carry out ground attack in Yemen, what would happen in the region?
-Yemenis unlike many other people are brave and warrior-like in their religious thought and temperament. Saudi Arabia could not destroy Houthis in the past and they moved on to create Ansarallah which now is a national-popular movement. Saudis have no good a future in Yemen and the invasion of Yemen is a political mistake. If they do not stop the war, they will die in this swamp. They cannot bring Yemen to its knees by some bombings here and there. If the Ansarallah movements decides to take a serious action – which has not done so yet– I do not think Saudi will be able to stand it and will lose the war in short time. Yemen is not a place where Saudis can gratify but it is their end.
Chehreghani from ILNA News Agency: Besides the ministry of foreign affairs, what the organization of Haj and Pilgrimage did against the sexual assaults on tow Iranian boys in Mecca?
-Since the incident the organization of Haj and Pilgrimage has taken proceedings and the suspension of Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage) is the result of their negotiations.
Mohammad Sadi from the Arabic department of ABNA News Agency: Will not the temporary suspension of Umrah result in the enemy’s abuse of the situation against Iran?
-Wahhabism has different types in Saudi Arabia and the extremist Wahhabis disagree with Iranians’ and Shiites’ presence in the Holy Places of Saudi Arabia. I myself have seen the extremists’ reaction when I told them that your government has given us the visa and we have come here legally; they would start cursing their government for letting Shiites enter the country. With the suspension of Haj in Iran these extremists will abuse the situation and will say that Shiites are not Muslims and they do not believe in Haj in general.
Saadat from Howze News Agency: Does managing the Holy Places in Saudi Arabia have any international solution?
-Last year the highest number of Umrah goers was from Iran and Iran’s capacity is much more than this. Indeed we do not want to offend the borders of Saudi Arabia and I am not talking about the government of Saudi Arabia. What we say is that Mecca and Medina belong to all peoples of the world though they are located in Saudi Arabia. And the government is responsible to provide the situation for the Hajis and pilgrims. For example, the United Nations is located in the U.S. and the U.S’s government is responsible to provide its security. Saudi government is responsible to provide the security of ideology, dignity, and life of the pilgrims. It is not acceptable to arrest a pilgrim for saying “Hello” in Masjid an-Nabawi because it is illegal to talk in the mosque!
Shabram from Moj News Agency: Should the management of the holy places, or the council you have suggested be specified by the Governments of the Islamic countries or the scholars of Islam and seminary schools?
-Scholars of Islam have to discuss the problems of Mecca and Medina. In the Ottoman time the four creeds of Sunnis were present in Mecca and Medina and all of them were living together in peace carrying out their duties. But today in Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi a minor creed is proselytized and other creeds are banned and even some people are beheaded for it.