A Shi'ite Muslim walks over burning coal during a religious procession as they mark Arbain, in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad January 15, 2012. Shi'ite Muslims commemorate Arbain to mark the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, Prophet Mohammad's grandson, who died in AD 680. Picture taken January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Amit Dave (INDIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)

A Shi’ite Muslim walks over burning coal during a religious procession as they mark Arbain.

September 9, 2009

After reaching Khomeini into power in Iran in late seventies, the thought of exporting Shia revolution was the objective of the new rulers in Tehran and the Arab Western region was their targeted area in order to consolidate their doctrinal and intellectual existence there, which was within the efforts of Khomeini to establish a Shia emperor to lead the Islamic world on the debris of Sunni doctrine, which is considered as the strategic enemy of Iran, that should be destroyed. Iran exerted its efforts to achieve this, adopted secret strategy and to create chaos and discord among the followers of the Sunni sects.

Iranians considered Tunisia as one of the preferred targets due to historic and political considerations and the efforts to polarize the Tunisian youths and to spread the Shia ideology among them the main objectives of Iranian engagement.

The Iranian Shia invasion had multiple objectives using various ways, and the cultural gateway, charity activity and political activity were the important passages used by Iran to infiltrate into other countries, as happened in Tunisia where most of the population belongs to the Sunni Maliki doctrine. Iran polarized some Tunisian Islamic youths after Khomeini assumed the power in Tehran, to mold them according to the Shia thought and doctrine to make them able to preach the Shia Ja’fari doctrine, the beginning was through the dissimulation which is considered as the important principles of the Shia doctrine, which gradually was turned into non-government associations, some of which followed Shia belief publicly, some concealed their loyalty to Shia doctrine and later these moves were turned to the Tunisian political scene by participating the elections and tried to infiltrate into the decision making bodies in the country.

Missionary associations with cultural mask

The Tunisian Cultural House, which was established in 2003, was the outset of the public appearance of the Shia expansion in Tunisia and this was established by Emad al Din al Hamrouni, who is a known Tunisian Shia follower loyal to Iran and he has boasted of his loyalty to the religious Shia authorities in Qum, arguing that, Shia belief is the origin in Tunisia, in a clear historic indication to the Fatimi Ismailia state which ruled Tunisia in 10th Century of AD, which was conqured by the Sunni doctrine rule and he claims that, the Shia belief is deeply rooted in the minds of Tunisians.

The Al Bait Association was established to spread the Shia doctrine and belief in the other countries of the Arab Western regions like Algeria, Morocco, Moritania and Libya as admitted by its leader Al Hamrouni in order to occupy the region intellectually and ideologically and it is asserted that, there is coordination with the Shia followers in Northern Africa and Iranian activists there to establish comprehensive Media System to spread the Shia doctrine and to spread Iranian policy in the region, which includes establishing a satellite channel overseen by the journalists formed for this purpose from people of the Arab Western countries, and this will be broadcasted in three mostly used languages in the region, the Arabic, French and Amazigh languages and this includes many libraries and conferences.

The al Bait Association which is financed through Iranian Cultural Centre in Tunisia organizes Shia festivals that include Shia religious ceremonies, challenging the values of the Tunisian Sunni community, which is used to revive festivals of Imam Ali and birthdays of Imam Ali, Imam Husain, Fathima Al Zahra and festival Al Ghadeer and festivals to revive Ashura ceremonies and this association is considered as the most powerful, organized and financed  Shia establishments in Tunisia and is hostile to the Sunni people which is clear from the provocative statements issued by some of its members defaming the senior companions of the prophet, Caliphs and mothers of believers.

It was declared recently establishment of Tunisian Shia Al Mawadda Cultural Association, led by Murad Al Shalabi, a Tunisian revealed before four years his link with Shia, but according to the opinions of the people he adopted Shia belief before years but kept it secret in order to create more followers by coordinating with Iran through its embassy and cultural centre in Tunisia, and through some associations and Shia centers in the region, and this association owes allegiance to Iran and its rulers and consider them as legitimate Muslim rulers and is a supporter of Hezbollah in the region.

With addition to these associations, before years another association named “Tunisian League for Tolerance was born, some of its members openly declare their adoption of Shia belief, but its President Salah Al Misri denies that, association doesn’t aim to spread the Shia belief in Tunisia, but attempts to create an atmosphere of tolerance and dialogue, without denying its leaning towards Iranian stream. Its real objective is to try to help consolidate and expand the Iranian Shia scheme in Tunisia, adopting the issue of Palestine and opposing normalization of relations with Israel as a way for its activities and to get the support of the people, it tried to mix it with other local organizations but all these efforts were in futile.

Outsets of the Iranian Shia occupation and “Imam line”

The Shia thought began to appear in Tunisia after the independence to the end of the 70s and beginning of 80s, when many Islamic party activists embraced Shia thought, who were influenced by the Iranian revolution that raised symbol of Islam, they were supported and trained by Tehran to use them to export the Shia thought by following  the principle of dissimulation and concealing identity after the oppression by the regime of Habib Bourguiba and then by Zain al Abidin bin Ali who arrested the islamists and later they were separated from the Islamic stream and continued to spread the Shia belief in the country, and one of the prominent Shia leaders in Tunisia who created controversies due to their open relations with Iran were, Lutfi Al Warhani, the author of the book “ yes I have embraced Shia belief and this is the cause” and Al Taijani Al Samavi the author of the book “then I was guided to right path” who travelled to Iraq in the 80s of the last century and met with the Shia leaders there and he is considered as the important authority of Shia belief in Tunisia and he is turbaned.

The Shia activities in Tunisia used to visit Iran, to get help and travelled to get instructions and to discuss the plans Iran wants to implement in the region.

During the last three decades their activities were secret especially in some remote areas inside Tunisia in order to exploit the naïve people of the villages and suburbs and in the late 80s they tried to test the pulse of Tunisian people towards Iranian Shia occupation and established Students Association “Imam Line” which was active in Tunisian universities but were rejected by the Tunisian people who considered it as an isolated case and doesn’t pose a threat to the people and this view was formed due to the lack of knowledge of the Tunisian people about the real forces who support it from inside and outside.

The Shia associations established many clubs and libraries to spread the Shia thought such as the famous library Al Shamil in the middle of capital near to the Al Fateh mosque in the Palestine street which provides important books related to the Shia doctrine and these books were available with cheap prices and were distributed free of cost through the Shia cultural associations and Iranian Cultural Centre belonging to the Iranian embassy in Tunisia which is involved in spreading the Shia thought 12th Asharia.

Exploitation of revolution to achieve ugly objectives of Iran

During the Tunisian revolution that erupted in the end of the 2010, and ended with the falling of former President Zain Al Abideen bin Ali in 2011 January, Shia leaders in Tunisia tried to exploit the sit-ins, demonstrations and anti regime activities to spread the Shia belief and they held many Shia rituals publicly in the sit-in grounds and conducted public campaign in favor of Shia belief.

According to one of the Tunisian revolution activists Abdul Hakim Al Ardhavi, he could see during the sit-ins some persons declaring their adoption of Shia belief and trying to polarize youths and there were some who engaged in temporary marriage during the demonstrations and allured the youths to follow that.

With the collapse of the regime of Bin Ali in January 2011, Iran utilized the chaos situation of the country taking advantage of the unlimited freedom and the weakness of the state after the collapse of Bin Ali rule; their religious rituals were conducted publicly and was established a political pole completely independent from any existing parties in Tunisia which was financed by Iran and some international Shia organizations linked with Iran, which is led by Mohamed Mohsin Al Hamdouni and Salam Al Saedi and the political wing of the Shia in Tunisia is trying to influence the political decision of the state through efforts to prompt Tunisia to establish relations with Iran through economic, cultural and trade exchange.

It is known that, the Shia associations in Tunisia rely on Ali Khamnei in their political and religious affairs and owe to him considering him as the Sign of Allah.

In a dangerous development of the infiltration of Shia in Tunisia, a group of Tunisian Shia activists linked with Iran assaulted some Tunisian youths belonging to Sunni sect in Bizerte city in 2012, during the commemoration demonstrations of Quds day by the Tunisian League for Tolerance a tradition of Iran to make the last Friday of Ramadan month the day of Quds. The incident happened when some Sunni demonstrators raised flags and symbols of Ahwaz and the Arab Sunni people oppressed by Iran which led to the attack by the Shia supporters who tore the flags and symbols of the demonstrators.

Shia belief is spreading in the several parts of Tunisia, notably in the City Gafza, Sfax and Qabis and this third city is witnessing spreading of Shia belief to the extent that Tunisians have named it Qom and there is  Husseiniah where the  Shia people of the city gather to conduct their rituals and to discuss their issues, and Tunisia also is witnessed for such congregations where the orders are issued coming from Iran to implement the plans.

Iran tried to exploit the Sufi Associations spread in Tunisia, in order to converge with it, and  to participate in the Iranian Shia occupation, many cultural and religious officials sent delegates to participate in the activities of the Sufi associations in Tunisia, with addition to the presence of the Shia teams in the religious and ceremonial activities of the Sufi teams in Tunisia, the Mihrab team participated during August in 2012, in Sufi spiritual Music Festival in Al Qairawan ( Kairouan)  historic city and Isra team the Lebanese Shia group belonging to Hezbollah in the festival held by the Tunisian League for Tolerance in August 2012 in Sfax city of Tunisia.

Popular rejection of Shia occupation

The Iranian move to expand the Shia belief in Tunisia triggered reactions from different sections of the society, and they asserted the need to defy this occupation which is hidden in the cultural and charity activity in order to reach into political field and the Sunni sect formed Tunisian League to oppose the Shia expansion in Tunisia and this league called on Tunisian government to close the Iranian Cultural Centre which constitutes the religious and cultural wing of Iran in Tunisia, and spreads the Shia ideology in the country and tries to create sedition and discord among the Tunisians who are united under the Sunni Maliki doctrine. This league also called on the government to sever diplomatic relations between two countries after Iran exceeded its borders of diplomatic tact and tried to plant seeds of sedition and chaos among the Tunisian community and to influence on Tunisia through its beliefs and efforts to export the Shia revolution and they also called on to end all the programs of cooperation between Iran and Tunisia especially in the cultural and educational fields.

The League concentrated in its statements on the Bizerte city incidents where the Sunni youths who raised flags and symbols of Ahwaz were subjected to assaults by the Shia followers and the League stated that, those who committed this were Tunisian Shia personalities loyal to Iran.

The League unveiled the dubious activities being carried out by the Iranian Cultural Centre to implement Iranian plan in Tunisia, it was found huge cash flow, recruitment and members of sleeping cells loyal to Iran and also many Tunisian scholars warned the danger of Iranian Shia expansion on the unity of Tunisia, its stability and Sunni Islamic identity



Source: Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.