JAFFA, Israel – Saudi Arabia has announced that the Friday prayers delivered at Mecca’s Great Mosque will be translated into Farsi, in what seems to be the latest chapter in an ongoing media war with Iran.
A journalist for a state-run Saudi news outlet told Breitbart Jerusalem that he sees the introduction of Farsi, in addition to English, French, Indonesian and Urdu, as an attempt to contain Iran’s attempts to spread Shi’a Islam among Sunnis. The journalist asked to be cited anonymously for fear of losing his job for giving such an analysis on the record,
He estimated that Sunni organizations and institutions face a formidable PR campaign orchestrated by Iran’s own and sympathizing media outlets, as well as civil society and religious organizations bent on missionary activity.
“Even at the height of the [nuclear] crisis, Iran invested enormous efforts and billions of dollars to propagate Shi’a Islam and their strategic interests in the region and throughout the Muslim World,” he said. “The Saudi regime believes that now that the sanctions have been lifted, these efforts will only increase.”
Throughout the Sunni world, he noted, supposedly grassroots Shi’ite organizations have emerged, and “the fear is that there would be a spillover from the religious to the political realm.”
“Their narrative is clear: Iran leads the anti-Western axis, while the Sunni states are an extension of Israel and the United States,” he said. “No doubt, then, that the decision regarding Friday prayer is part of a Saudi counteroffensive. It complements the formation of a Sunni coalition that Riyadh is now busy doing.”