At the 27th conference for Islamic unity, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned about the dangers of takfiri groups and said that the countries that support them will eventually face trouble with them as well.
“Today, the most important issue in the Muslim world is unity,” said Ayatollah Khamenei at the conference. “With consideration of all the conspiracies,” he said, the future of “unity, awareness, and Islamic awakening” is bright.
One the goals of the “conspiracies and movements of the the enemies of Islam to prevent real freedom and the welfare of Islamic world,” which Khamenei called “complex and multi-dimensional,” is to “create differences among Muslims, which are one of the main tricks of the ‘arrogance.'”
Khamenei said that the enemy has been working to make the Islamic world neglect Palestine by “creating differences, promoting extremism and deviations in the name of Islam, religion and Sharia and have a number of Muslims declare the majority of Muslims apostates.” He continued, “The existence of these takfiri movements in the Islamic world … has been good news for the ‘arrogance’ and enemies of Islam.”
A Muslim who accuses another Muslim of apostasy is referred to as “takfiri.” Takfiri, Salafist or jihadist groups, particularly in areas where the central government is weak, have taken it upon themselves to declare various Muslims or groups apostates, for which the punishment is death.
Khamenei said of the takfiri groups, “Instead of focusing on the reality of the wicked Zionist regime,” they draw focus to other places. He added that Islam teaches Muslims to be kind toward one another. Instead, takfiri groups have come along and divided Muslims into two groups: Muslims and infidels.
Support of takfiri groups comes from the “arrogance,” Khamenei said. The term “arrogance” is a religious one, but it often is used to refer to Western countries and Israel.
He called the emergence of takfiri groups “a great danger” and added that “some Muslim governments” have, through neglect, fueled these disputes. He added that these governments do not understand that they are lighting a fire that will engulf them as well.
Khamenei said that Arab Spring has been used by the “arrogance” as a propaganda war. He mentioned specifically that when a Muslim is videotaped eating a liver (in reference to the jihadist who ate the liver of a Syrian soldier), this is used to make all Muslims look bad. He said that it is the duty of all Shiites and Sunnis and the various branches within these sects to fight back against anyone who works against Muslim unity.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s comments come at a time when many Middle Eastern countries have become embroiled and taken sides in Syria’s civil war, which has not only taken on a sectarian dimension but has also seen a great deal of fighting between various Islamist groups. Iran has supported the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is comprised largely of Alawites in the upper echelons of power, while most of Assad’s opposition is made up of Sunni Syrians, who receive support from majority-Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
One of the most worrying aspects of the civil war for Iran has been the entrance of Sunni jihadists. Last week, the head of the judiciary warned the Intelligence Ministry to stay alert for the entrance of takfiri groups into the country.