The season of Hajj pilgrimage is about to commence. Upon its approach, attempts are being made to spread disinformation and lies. Earlier, such mischief was done by people associated with Khomeini. The principal method used was by conducting a heretic ceremony they named “The Repudiation of the Polytheists,” which Khomeini and his cohorts had devised to launch propaganda campaigns in support of the Iranian regime.
What is new this time is the introduction of Qatari policies in the mix. Here, I am not suggesting the involvement of the Qatari state or its people. If attempts to politicize Hajj might be perceived to benefit Qatar, it might be equally tempting for Iran which has a far larger population and is more mobilized than before!
The pilgrimage season has been politically targeted ever since Khomeini came to power in Iran in 1979. Khomeini, the Brotherhood and Muammar Qaddafi were all upset that the Two Holy Mosques and the Hajj and Umrah were, as they still continue to be, under the care and custodianship of Saudi Arabia.
This is why those associated with Khomeini and those who currently seek to imitate them from among Qatar’s politicians try to cast doubts about the convening of the Hajj and Umrah in Mecca and Medina. This is nothing new and is part of a carefully orchestrated plan.
Nabil Khalife, a Christian Lebanese researcher, has studied these old tricks conceived by Khomeini. In his book Targeting Sunnis, he provides the following insights into Khomeini’s policy: “Since it is a geo-demographic minority in the Islamic world, it (Iran under Khomeini) depended on a cynical strategy and propaganda to consecrate its existence, efficiency and credibility as a radical Islamic movement confronting the traditional Sunni persuasion.” According to Khalife, the policy exploited the Hajj pilgrimage to undermine the Saudi leadership, for instance through the 1987 Mecca incident. It exploited the Palestinian struggle, a purely Islamic cause, to help Shiites rise up with Hezbollah and raised the slogan of Jerusalem against Mecca.
Khalife’s views are significant. He has a PhD from Sorbonne in Arab Islamic civilization, and he has been assistant editor-in-chief of al-Mostaqbal magazine and was in charge of the Arab Center for International Studies. He was a broadcaster in Radio Monte Carlo when Khomeini was exiled to Paris and was living in Neauphle-le-Château. At the time, he wrote an early study about Khomeini when the revolutionary Shiite cleric’s charisma was a “global rage.”
The study was entitled: “Imam Khomeini’s revolution in the light of Iran’s modern history and Islam’s political philosophy.” It was published in the ‘Future Magazine’ on March 17, 1979. The study made Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal curious and according to Doctor Nabil Khoury, he asked Shokri Nasrallah, a journalist from the ‘Future Magazine’ for copies of the edition. It seems however that the study did not change any of Heikal’s illusions about Khomeini’s republic.
In the end, bidders have come and gone but Mecca and Medina have remained in the care and custodianship of Saudi Arabia.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.