After Saudi execution, unease over effect on Shia-Sunni equations

Sunnis make up more than 90 per cent of Muslims in India, but opinion is divided on the extent of their allegiance to Saudi Arabia and antipathy to Iran.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Published:January 5, 2016 3:57 am
Shia Muslims hold a protest against Nimra Killing in Saudi Arabia at old city of Lucknow on monday.Express photo by Vishal Srivastav 04.01.2016 Shia Muslims hold a protest against Saudi execution at old city of Lucknow on Monday. (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

With Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric triggering outrage in Iran and other countries, there is some uneasiness in India on how the changing graph of international relations could affect Shia-Sunni equations in India.

Sunnis make up more than 90 per cent of Muslims in India, but opinion is divided on the extent of their allegiance to Saudi Arabia and antipathy to Iran.

Maulana Wali Rehmani, acting general secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said, “The execution will increase the distance between Shias and Sunnis in the Arab world. But it will not reflect here as there is no such inherent tension here.”

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Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric, was one of the 47 people executed by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday, triggering widespread protests.

Shias here maintained there were no differences between the two communities on Nemer. “Since workers started going to Saudi Arabia, there is an increase in Wahabiyat. However, ask any Shia or Sunni, they would agree that Nemer’s death is not about sectarian differences but the reaction of oppressive states to independent voices,” said a Shia scholar and member of AIMPLB.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, said, “Sunnis will certainly not tolerate voices against Saudi Arabia. I do see an aggravation in the tension between Shia-Sunni relations in India. As for myself, I am with Saudi Arabia all the way.”

However, his unequivocal allegiance does not find many takers, even within his own sect.

Arshad Madani, teacher of Darul uloom Deoband and president of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, said, “I do not see implications for Indian Muslims. Anyone who goes against the law of the land will bear the consequences,” he said.

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