Ibrahim Kalin says regional powers should work to overcome sectarianism.
Shia and Sunni Muslims should look to their common origins rather than allow themselves to be split by sectarianism, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Thursday.
“Shia and Sunni Muslims should remember that they were both fed from the same book, the same prophet, the same persuasion and the same belief,” he told a symposium on north Africa, Iran and Turkey at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University.
The centuries-old struggle between the two main strands of Islam has been highlighted by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq in recent years.
Kalin said Iran, the main Shia power in the Middle East, bore particular responsibility in helping prevent sectarian violence.
“Today, neither Sunnis should be oppressed in the name of Shiism nor Shias be oppressed in the name of Sunnism,” Kalin told the audience.
“We should establish this perspective in the correct way. I believe that Iran, particularity, has huge responsibility in this regard.”
Kalin, an aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said regional powers should work to find common ground to allow people to live with their differences.
He highlighted the rule of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia who held office from 2006 to 2014, as an example not to follow.
Maliki has been widely accused of forcing Iraq’s Sunni minority into the arms of terror groups such as Daesh through the promotion of a pro-Shia agenda.
However, not all conflict in the region was due to religious or ethnic sectarianism, Kalin added, pointing to the threat posed by terror groups such as the PKK/PYD in Syria.
The three-day International Symposium on Continuity and Change in North Africa, Iran and Turkey has been organized by the university and the Ankara Center for Iranian Studies to explore a wide range of regional topics.