MOGADISHU (HMC) – Iran has denied allegations by Somalia’s government that it sent ‘secret’ missionaries to Somalia to convert locals to the Shiite doctrine.
The development comes one week after Somalia’s security forces arrested two Iranians who were accused of ‘spreading’ the Shiite doctrine in Mogadishu, a development which underlines the tricky relationship between the Sunni horn of Africa nation and the overwhelmingly Shia Western Asian country.
Hossein Jabir Ansari, the spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry described the allegations as ‘baseless’, calling Somali government to give ‘full’ explanations about the arrest of the two Iranians in Mogadishu.
Speaking to the reporters in Tehran Wednesday, Mr. Ansari said the duo were arrested as result of ‘misunderstandings’ and called for their immediate release.
According to Somali authorities, the two Iranians were arrested during a religious ceremony along with dozens of locals at a hotel in Mogadishu last week.
Somalia, a conservative Muslim country, has no known Shia minority as it’s considered to be an overwhelmingly Sunni nation.
Somalia’s intelligence agency paraded the two Iranian men Muhsin Hussein and Ruhu Allah Qulam Muhsin before the media on Sunday, accusing them of ‘disseminating’ the Shiite doctrine among Mogadishu residents.
The official also accused the Iranians of arranging mass-weddings for locals during a religious ceremony marking the birth date of Prophet Mohammed as parts of a process which they said aimed to convert ‘many’ to Shiite doctrine.