Dozens of Saudi clerics, in a statement released on October 5, called for supporting the war against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as Iran and Russia, which are backing Syria in its fight against terrorism.
“Give all moral, material, political and military” support to the war against the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian backers,Reuters quoted the Saudi clerics as saying in the statement.
The clerics also referred to the terrorists committing crimes against humanity in Syria as the “holy warriors” who are “defending” the Arab country, and called for trusting them “because if they are defeated… it will be the turn of one Sunni country after another.”
Adama Dieng, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide and Jennifer Welsh, the UN special adviser on the responsibility to protect, slammed in a statement on Tuesday the call by the clerics in Saudi Arabia and expressed their alarm at the rise in violent rhetoric by influential religious leaders.
“Such rhetoric can aggravate the already extremely volatile situation in Syria by drawing religiously motivated fighters to join all parties to the conflict, thus escalating the risk of violence against religious communities,” said the advisers in a statement, adding that “advocacy of religious hatred to incite or justify violence is not only morally wrong, but also prohibited under international law.”
The UN officials also stressed that “religious leaders should be the messengers of peace, not of war”, calling on religious leaders around the world to refrain from any form of advocacy of religious hatred and incitement to violence.
“In situations in which tensions are high, as in Syria, religious leaders should call for and foster restraint and dialog, rather than fanning the flames of hatred,” they said.
The developments come as Iraq, Iran, Syria and Russia have formed an intelligence-sharing center in the Iraqi capital in their fight against Takfiri terrorists wreaking havoc mainly in Syria and Iraq.
Since September 30, Russia has been conducting airstrikes against the positions of the terrorists across Syria upon a request from the Damascus government.
The Saudi clerics’ letter used sectarian terms against the regional quadripartite coalition members and blamed the West for not providing Takfiri militants in Syria with anti-aircraft weapons.
“The Western-Russian coalition with the Safavids and the Nusairis are making a real war against the Sunni people and their countries,” the statement read, using the terms Safavids and the Nusairis in the same way as the Daesh Takfiri group does in referring to Iranians and Alawis respectively.
The senior rights officials also referred to the Russian Orthodox clerics’ description of the Russian campaign in Syria as a “holy battle”.
“The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it,” said the head of Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church’s public affairs department, Vsevolod Chaplin, quoted by the Interfax news agency on September 30.
The UN officials allso praised a move by the Organization of Syrian Christians for Peace to reject the concept of a “holy war” in the Arab country and criticizing those who invoke such a mentality.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and left over one million injured.