Fuelling religious rifts amounts to political ignorance

Unity is what Muslims need most at this juncture and fuelling differences is tantamount to ignorance, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani says.

Chairman of the State Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani met with a host of Sunni political, , cultural and religious figures from across the nation on August 5. The Jomhouri Islami (Islamic Republic) Newspaper quoted Mr. Rafsanjani in its August 6 issue as saying that unity is what Muslims need most at this juncture. He stated anyone who drives a wedge among Muslims, no matter what his or her motive, is committing a big sin. The following is the report the daily ran on the meeting:

At the meeting Ayatollah Rafsanjani said that the demands of Sunni Muslims do not clash with the principles of Shi’ism and the Muslim faith or with the country’s national interests, adding, “We all care about the dignity of Islam and Iran, but some are fanning the flames of differences.”

He touched upon what is currently happening in Occupied Palestine and warned Islamic governments that when world powers ignore diplomatic norms and human laws to lend full support to crimes committed at the hands of Zionists and provide the Tel Aviv regime with assistance, any move that creates religious and tribal differences in the ranks of Muslims is tantamount to political ignorance.

He recalled the emphasis the Supreme Leader laid on Muslim unity in a meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts and said Ayatollah Khamenei blames the problems of Muslims on extremist attitudes among both Shiites and Sunnis.

The top councilor then said the fact that extremists think they are serving the interests of Islam through their acts lies at the center of the problems the world of Islam is grappling with.

Mr. Rafsanjani said that up to 1.7 billion Muslims currently live in 60 Islamic countries around the globe, and that despite enjoying big political and human capital, the Islamic world is witnessing crimes by Zionists against defenseless Gazans, including women and children.

He then condemned the support the US president lends to the usurping regime in Tel Aviv and said it defies the standards of human ethics to help criminals kill innocent people.

Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani said Palestine is part and parcel of Islam, adding, “The shouts of millions of oppressed people who were driven from their homes more than 60 years ago are now falling on deaf ears across the world and their actions in self-defense are regarded as terrorism.”

Recalling the fact that Sunni Muslims live in the country’s border provinces, the chairman of the Expediency Council said such presence is indicative of the peak of their nationalist zeal and shows that despite the publicity hype of the enemy, they are there to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country.

In a sentence addressing Sunni Muslims, Mr. Rafsanjani said, “Let me assure you, the policies of the establishment are meant to defend the followers of all divine faiths. Arbitrary approaches come from nowhere other than personal and, at times, vengeful mindsets which seek to fuel ethnic disputes and widen the existing gaps.”

Hashemi Rafsanjani also praised the unity between Shiites and Sunnis in Iran, and said, “We can be good teachers for world nations. We shouldn’t let Muslims get mired in differences anymore.”

Prior to Mr. Rafsanjani’s remarks, some participants including Sunni prayer leaders and past and present MPs representing Sunni Muslims in parliament […] spoke about the necessity of Shiite-Sunni unity, importance of meritocracy and significance of steering clear of extremism.

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