Sunni-Shiite Relations

[International Herald Tribune ] Reza Zia-Ebrahimi - The "Shiite crescent" - an alliance of Shiite Iran with Arab Shiite movements in Iraq and Lebanon allegedly committed to dominating the Middle East - has become a popular intellectual shortcut to explaining Muslim affairs in the West. Yet the theory ignores the complexity of religious, national, local and tribal allegiances that include, exclude or overlap one another throughout the region. In an interesting twist, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - two Shiites - are considered the most popular foreign leaders in overwhelmingly Sunni Egypt (and probably most of the Middle East), according to a poll by the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo. The Saudi religious establishment holds sway over many radical Muslim circles, thanks to its worldwide network of mosques, and usually adheres to a puritan and intolerant version of Sunni Islam. Many young Saudis who engage in jihad in Iraq are motivated, among other things, by fervent anti-Shiite sentiments.

2008-07-22 01:00:00

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