Riyadh has sent Tehran a message through unofficial channels clarifying that the latest inflammatory comments by a Saudi grand mufti were not an official position, al monitor website reported on Sep. 12.
The message comes after Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh, accused the Iranians of being non-Muslims, called them descendants of Zoroastrians.
“They are the sons of the Magi [Zoroastrians], and their hostility toward Muslims is an old one, especially with the people of the Sunnah [Sunnis],” said the mufti in response to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei article accusing Saudi Arabia of the “murder” of pilgrims in last year’s hajj.
According to al monitor, Riyadh has sent Tehran a message through unofficial channels clarifying that the grand mufti’s inflammatory comments were not an official position.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, a former Saudi diplomat Abdullah Shammari, said that the latest comments by the Saudi mufti are personal and political and can’t be regarded as a religious fatwa.
“The latest comments by the Saudi mufti should be put into the accompanying context,” Shammari said.
“The interview was on the phone, and it reflects an angry personal point of view after the Iranian supreme leader’s message that crossed all red lines.” He added.
Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh comment incited another round of responses, including from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who tweeted, “Indeed; no resemblance between Islam of Iranians & most Muslims & bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric and Saudi terror masters preach.”
Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations in January after Saudis executed a prominent Shiite cleric and angry Iranian crowds overran Saudi diplomatic missions.
During the hajj in Mina last year a stampede killed roughly 2,300 people who were on their way to throw their stones at the Jamarat Bridge