How the Saudi vs Iran Wahhabi-Shia war is playing out in Kerala
Kerala is witness to a lot of activity which includes political murders, the rise of Wahhabism and hawala. A state that is coping with so many pressing issues has another problem to deal with and that is a possible outbreak of an all out Sunni vs Shia fight.
Several Muslim intellectuals in recent discussions have been pointing to a sustained campaign by Iran to push in the Shia ideology in Kerala. The Sunnis say that the Constitution does not bar the presence of Shias, but they need to be truthful about their presence.
In a May 2017 report published in the Milli Report, Abdurehman Adreseeri, a critic of the Shias, said former SIMI leader P Koya, who is now part of the PFI is the person behind this.
It is also suspected that the Islamic Youth Centre in Kozhikode is the organisation behind the spread of Shia ideology in Kerala. Another organisation called the Islamic Foundation in Mallapuram too is being blamed for the fast spread of Shia ideology after it brought out over 30 books on the faith.
The Intelligence Bureau says that there is a fast rise of Shia ideology. However it is not in the harmful way. The IB however cautioned that a section is trying to dish out emotions and create a rift between the two faiths. The IB also points out that the number of Shias in Kerala is negligible.
A Times of India report says, "it is intriguing that so many books have been in circulation though the actual number of Shias in Kerala is much less," said Swalih Nizami Puthuponnani, who has done an extensive study on the subject.
The worry for the Sunnis is that despite the number of Shias being less in Kerala, they are capable of exerting pressure on intellectuals.
Adreseeri says that around 70 Shiites have emerged in Kerala and have also conducted secret meetings at Ponnani recently. V A M Ashraf and C Hamza had attended the meeting," he also said.
If one looks at the broader picture, then it appears that Iran vs Saudi fight is playing out in Kerala as well. Saudi has been pushing the Wahhabis into Kerala for long. The funds and the ideology is out there in the open for people to see. The Intelligence Bureau too has flagged this issue several times.
Iran on the other end may be trying to push the Shia faith into Kerala to counter the Wahhabis, analysts feel. Security officials say that they have this issue under control. If the local police do not act quickly on the issue then it could blow up into a full-fledged war in Kerala, the IB also says.