Iran threatens to isolate India in Muslim world

TEHRAN, March 21, 2013 Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks on the first day of Iranian new year at the city of Mashhad, northeastern Iran, March 21, 2013. Iran would annihilate the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if attacked by the Jewish state, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday. .(Xinhua/Official Website of the Iran's Supreme Leader) (Credit Image: © Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua/

New Delhi/Tehran:  Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Thursday threatened to isolate India over the killing of Muslims in the recent Delhi communal riots.

Khamenei’s reprimand came after New Delhi, a few days ago, lodged its protest against Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s tweet in which he condemned “the wave of organized violence against Indian Muslims”. The cleric conveyed the threat to India through his Twitter page too.

“The hearts of Muslims all over the world are grieving over the massacre of Muslims in India,” he tweeted. The government of India, he said, “should confront extremist Hindus and their parties and stop the massacre of Muslims in order to prevent India’s isolation from the world of Islam.” Khameini used the hashtag #IndianMuslimsInDanger. Hundreds of Muslims liked and retweeted his tweet within hours.

Interestingly, India shares a good relation with most Sunni countries in the world.

The Shia-dominated Iran has been frequently expressing hostility towards India ever since the latter strengthened its strategic ties with Tehran’s archrivals, the US and Israel, in the last six years. Relations have also been under strain after India stopped buying rude oil from Iran to avoid penalties that President Donald Trump imposed on the US allies that trade with the Islamic Republic.

Last year, massive protests broke out in Tehran after oil prices shot up enormously. After the Iranian government crackdown on protestors and censored the press, the protest soon turned into a country-wide agitation demanding regime-change.

Around 1,500 protestors were killed and thousands were tortured and arrested, as per several estimates. The Islamic republic, under Sharia law, has death penalty for apostasy, imprisonment of women for not wearing ‘hijab’ (head covering) and other severe punishments for defying religious rules.

Early this year, after the US killed Iranian revolutionary guard and spy chief Qasem Soleimani in an air strike in Iraq, the ties between Tehran and Washington descended to a new low. In retaliation, Iran struck on a US military base in Iraq and claimed to have killed several American soldiers. It also shot down a Ukrainian plane killing over 170 civilians but later claimed that it was an accident.

Soon after the first state visit of US President Trump to India last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif made scathing comments on the communal riots in Delhi over Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The recently enacted law, CAA fast tracks citizenship of persecuted religious minorities of three Islamic theocratic countries neighbouring India –Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The CAA triggered widespread violent protests in India, with the opposition calling it discriminatory against Muslims. During Trump’s visit, several parts of Delhi, the epicentre of violent protests against the CAA, erupted in communal riots. Over 50 people of both Hindu and Muslim communities were killed along with some security officials too.