With tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia running feverishly high, this may seem like an odd time for a young Saudi woman to choose to study in Iran. Yet that’s exactly what our Observer is doing. She details her experiences on her blog, “Saudi in Iran”.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have never had very good relations. Iran is a Shiite theocracy, while Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. And today, because of proxy wars between the two countries in Syria and Yemen, their relationship is more volatile than ever. Their latest feud is over the stampede that killed more than 1,600 people in Mecca: several hundred Iranians were among the pilgrims who perished, and were blamed by Saudi authorities for allegedly starting the stampede. Tehran, meanwhile, placed the blame for the tragedy squarely on the Saudi authorities.
After the Mecca stampede, Iranians demonstrated in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in Mahshad. In Saudi Arabia, some imams declared that killing Shiites was ‘halal’, or allowed.
In this context, Saudi blogger Sara Masry, who has lived and studied in Tehran for the past ten months, chooses to focus in her blog on her day-to-day life there, avoiding all politics. She did, however, make a small exception to address the Mecca tragedy: “This event is now polarizing the two populations even further … while pushing the possibility of mutual understanding and empathy back another few decades”.
Initially published on France24 on 10/15/2015
Read the full story here.