Monday, December 28, 2015
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somalia’s security forces arrested two Iranians it accused of converting locals to Shiitism doctrine, a development which underlines the tricky relationship between the Sunni horn of Africa nation and the overwhelmingly Shia country of Iran.
According to authorities, the two were arrested during a religious ceremony joined by dozens of locals at a hotel in Mogadishu last week.
Somalia’s intelligence agency paraded the two Iranian men Muhsin Hussein and Ruhu Allah Qulam Muhsin before the media Sunday, accusing them of ‘disseminating’ the Shiite doctrine among Mogadishu residents.
“Their mission was an outright assault against Somali people and their religious conviction.” an intelligence official said. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The official also accused the Iranian of arranging mass-weddings for locals during a religious ceremony marking the birthdate of Prophet Mohammed as parts of a process which he said aims to convert ‘many’ to Shiitism doctrine.
No comment could be reached from the Iranian mission in Mogadishu on the development.
Ideology clashes and arguments between Shiites and Sunnis date back to the death in 632 of Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad. Tribal Arabs who followed him were split over who should inherit what was both a political and a religious office, according to a report by Pew Research Centre, a Washington-based think tank.
The development has sparked a social media outrage with some Somalis called for the ‘expulsion’ of Iranians in the country, while others urged Somalia’s government to use to a more cautious diplomatic tone with Iran than expulsions, a scenario which may threaten relations between the two countries.
“This is just an issue that can be handled through diplomatic means – expulsions will not help.” said Ali Abdi, a twitter use in Minneapolis.