A popular beloved Kuwaiti actor (comedian) died this week. He was popular across the region, especially in the Gulf states.
Many people of all faiths across the Arab world expressed condolences. But there was a snag: he also happened to be Shi’a, and his first name indicated that he could be nothing else. That is not a problem in his home country, sectarianism is a new phenomenon and limited to Islamist extremists. But it proved to be a bit of a problem in a couple of neighboring countries and on social media.
Some Arab Salafi and Wahhabi extremists on social media as well as some of their prominent clerics (sheikhs) expressed outrage that others (Sunnis) expressed sympathy for the death of a Shi’a whom they consider a heretic. Some basically issued their own fatwas saying the act of condolence for someone of a different sect is sacrilegious.
Other prominent clerics took the hint from their bosses and took new route: they actually opposed the messages of sectarian hate. Especially the Imam of the Holy Mosque in Mecca.
Odd: nobody, none of these dissenting clerics, had expressed outrage for condolences sent about the deaths of many others, mostly non-Muslim potentates. Including Cheeta the Chimp (my favorite childhood film star)…
Even an alleged heathen like Herr Professor Doctor Sebastian Gorka PhD knows that the differences between Sunni and Shi’a are minimal. Or so he claims. The Herr Doctor Gorka (PhD) has reportedly opined that Sunni or Shi’a Muslims are both evil: it is like Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi (See? Even in this present and least eloquent of White Houses). He probably even knows the differences between German Nazis, Austrian Nazis, and Hungarian Goulash Nazis of the good old days.
Yet many Muslims don’t know such distinctions but emphasize others, especially those of the Salafi (and some Muslim Brotherhood) sects.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum