The Union of the Comoros completely closed down several Iranian organisations yesterday, after authorities accused them of attempting to infiltrate the African island nation and “spreading Shia ideology”.
Online news site Alkhaleej Online cited the Comorian authorities as stating that the Iranian front organisations were operating under the guise of “fake” charities while in actual fact they were bureaus for the spread and proselytisation of the Shia creed.
The Comoros is a diminutive African country which is a member of the Arab League. Its state religion is Sunni Islam, which differs significantly to the version of Islam espoused by the Iranian theocracy.
The Ambassador of the Union of the Comoros to Saudi Arabia, Al-Habib Abbas Abdullah, told the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that the real agenda of these Iranian offices were the infiltration of the Comoros by “extending the Shia ideology to the country.”
He pointed out that, three months ago, President Othman Ghazali ordered the closure of all Iranian offices and organisations in the Comoros which were operating under the pretext of being charities.
Iran has made frequent use of charities and NGOs to spread the influence and uptake of its version of Shi’ism, including in major African states such as Nigeria where they have found a rapidly growing following.
In addition to spreading Shi’ism, Iran has also sought to entrench itself amongst existing Shia communities, such as by backing Shia Bahrainis against the Sunni monarchy, supporting the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen as well as backing the Alawite regime of President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, who belongs to a subsect of Shi’ism.
The Comoros’ move to shutter Iranian NGOs and “charities” will likely be greeted by the majority of the member states of the Arab League, most of whom are Sunni, and who perceive Iran as pursuing a sectarian-based foreign policy agenda.