Iran General NewsMorocco accuses Iran of cultural infiltration

Morocco accuses Iran of cultural infiltration

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ImageAFP: Morocco's foreign minister accused Tehran Sunday of hiding behind cultural, non-governmental organisations in a concerted bid to implant Shiite Muslim ideology in the Sunni-ruled Arab state.

ImageRABAT (AFP) — Morocco's foreign minister accused Tehran Sunday of hiding behind cultural, non-governmental organisations in a concerted bid to implant Shiite Muslim ideology in the Sunni-ruled Arab state.

Taieb Fassi Fihri criticised Iranian Shiite "activism" in Morocco, nine days after it severed diplomatic relations with Tehran.

The cut in ties was the outcome of a row triggered by an Iranian official who questioned Gulf neighbour Bahrain's sovereignty. Morocco leapt to Sunni Bahrain's defence.

Fihri told AFP that the activism was being stoked "notably by (Iran's) diplomatic representatives in Rabat," and said Iran had failed to provide an explanation for its actions before and after the March 6 decision to cut ties.

While the minister said Shiite adherents in Morocco could be counted in the hundreds, he warned that "Morocco cannot accept activities of this type, whether ordered directly or indirectly, or via so-called NGOs.

"Supposed cultural activities cannot take this form because they are a restriction of fundamental Moroccan (rights)," Fihri added.

While his ministry had previously said Rabat was singled out for diplomatic reprisals by Tehran over the Bahrain controversy, Fihri said other countries were experiencing similar ideological impositions.

A leading Iranian official said on February 20 that Bahrain — which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Gulf — used to be Iran's 14th province and that it had a representative in the Iranian parliament.

Iran moved to try to defuse the spat, which threatened a major bilateral gas deal, by saying it respects Bahrain's sovereignty.

The relationship between Sunni-ruled Arab states in the Gulf and non-Arab Shiite Muslim Iran has long been strained, with the former wary about the Islamic republic's nuclear drive and its close ties with the new Shiite-led government in Iraq.

In 2007, Iran's ambassador angrily demanded that a Moroccan artist withdraw from an art exhibit in Mexico a photograph he deemed offensive to Islam.

 

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