Saudi scholars say Hizbollah has anti-Sunni agenda


The Saudi government and religious establishment has watched with alarm as the Lebanese Shia group’s popularity rose in the Arab world since forcing Israel to withdraw in south Lebanon in 2000 and surviving an Israeli military onslaught in 2006.

Although most Arabs are Sunnis, Hizbollah is generally popular in the region. Saudi Arabia sees the group as an extension of Iranian power.

"Many Muslims have been fooled by the Shias’ claims to be championing Islam and challenging the Jews and Americans and Hizbollah’s claims in Lebanon," the statement distributed on Islamic websites said.

"Those who believe their claims have not realised the reality of the infidel bases of their faith … It was the rejectionist Shias who began the practice of visiting graves and building shrines," it said, citing a major concern of Saudi Arabia’s particular brand of Islam, often termed Wahhabism. "They (Shias) humiliate Sunnis whenever they have the chance, in Iran and Iraq. They are destabilising Muslim countries as happened during pilgrimage and in Yemen."

Some members of a Shia sect in north Yemen, to the south of Saudi Arabia, are locked in rebellion there. Iranian pilgrims making political statements have often clashed with Saudi authorities during the Hajj pilgrimage.

Hizbollah and its allies won a bigger seat in government after street fighting broke out between government and opposition militias last month, further alarming Riyadh.
The statement was signed by 22 scholars including the leading independent religious scholars Abdulrahman Al Barrak and Abdullah bin Jabreen.

The Grand Mufti, who represents the government’s position, was not a signatory but he was quoted in the media during last month’s fighting in Lebanon as saying groups who raise the banner of Islam were exposing the country to the danger of Israeli reprisals, but he did not specify Hizbollah by name.

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