Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah says 'Wahhabism is worse than Israel'

Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah says 'Wahhabism is worse than Israel'

The chief of Lebanese militant group Hizballah has claimed that the puritanical branch of Islam known as Wahhabism - popular in Saudi Arabia - is more dangerous than Israel.

2 min read
28 September, 2016
Hizballah has engaged in numerous conflicts with Israel [Getty]

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said that the Wahhabi trend of Islam is "worse" than Israel, and commanded supporters of the Lebanese Shia militant group to "strike it down".

Nasrallah said on Tuesday that the conservative branch of Sunnism was responsible for "tarnishing Islam", Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported.

"Wahhabis are even more horrible than the Israelis because they are trying to completely wipe out other [sects] and obliterate anything related to Islam and its history," Nasrallah said at an annual meeting with Quranic reciters.

"We must turn this threat into an opportunity to corner Wahhabism and strike it down."

The ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam - also known as Salafism - has been promoted by Saudi Arabia's government, although followers reject the title "Wahabbism".

Analysts say that the strict, puritanical interpretation of Islam has played a role in shaping the ideologies of militant groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda.

Salafi-jihadi groups have been at war with the Syrian regime and Shia-dominated Iraqi government, both of which Hizballah supports.

Saudi Arabia has also been at loggerheads with Shia-majority Iran, one of the chief financiers of Hizballah.

Nasrallah however stated that the fight on a regional level was not "against Sunnis" but against "Wahabbism as an ideology".

Hizballah has engaged in numerous conflicts with Israel, including a war in 2006 that resulted in the deaths of around 1,300 Lebanese.

The remarks come as Hizballah's ally Iran and Saudi Arabia have waded into an intense war of words.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia's top cleric said Iranians were "not Muslims". 

Iran's president, in turn, has called on the Muslim world to unite and punish Saudi Arabia for its mismanagement of the Hajj pilgrimage and wider actions in the region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif this month wrote an article, which was published in The New York Times, titled "Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism". 

Nasrallah, whose group is fighting alongside the Syrian regime, also said that there was no prospect of a political solution for Syria as the conflict has become "more complicated" after the collapse of the US-Russia brokered ceasefire.

"The final outcome will be decided on the battlefield," he said.

His threat casme as the Syrian regime began an all-out ground offensive to retake rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

He added that there were no "moderate" Islamist forces within the Syrian opposition ranks, and that all rebels either belonged to former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fath al-Sham or IS.