Friday, September 9, 2016

Iran-Saudi Spat

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) had published a scathing open letter on Monday accusing Saudi Arabia of their failure to protect pilgrims.
 
He was referring to a stampede that killed nearly 2,300 Muslims at last year’s haj – more than 400 of the victims were Iranians.
 
“The hesitation and failure to rescue the half-dead and injured people… is also obvious and incontrovertible. They murdered them,” he wrote.
 
Also Khamenei had described the Saudi royal family as “small and puny Satans who tremble for fear of jeopardizing the interests of the Great Satan (the United States of America)”, and called on the Muslim world to end its management of the haj.
 
Saudi Arabia wasn’t going to take that lying down.
 
On Tuesday, the country’s most senior cleric, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheik (left) responded when he told the Makkah daily: “We must understand these are not Muslims, they are children of Magi and their hostility towards Muslims is an old one”.
 
“Magi” was a reference to the Zoroastrian religion that was prevalent in Iran before Islam.It is sometimes used as an insult against Iranians.
 
On the same day too, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Indeed, no resemblance between Islam of Iranians and most Muslims, and bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric and Saudi terror masters preach”.
 
And if the acrimonious exchange of words is not bad enough – for the first time in almost three decades, Iranians have been barred from the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest places in Saudi Arabia after the regional rivals failed to agree on safety and logistical issues.
 
Even amongst the devout and the pious, they are still able to stoop low to hurl insolent insults. Their religious virtues have obviously deserted them.
 
On Wednesday, Malaysia confirmed its first case of the Zika virus in a pregnant 27-year-old woman from Johore.
 
Last week, the country had its first imported case of Zika in a 58-year-old woman who had visited Singapore. And on Saturday, it had its first case of a locally transmitted Zika infection.
 
Malaysia is full of surprises.
 
And in Singapore, locally transmitted cases of zika climbed past the 300 mark.
 
I am certain zika will spread beyond Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

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