Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Saudi grand mufti and head of the Council of Senior Scholars, spoke to Makkah newspaper Sept. 6, saying, “We must understand that those are not Muslims. They are Majus [Zoroastrians], and their enmity to Muslims — specifically to the Sunni community — goes way back.”
Although Sheikh was addressing the Iranian political regime, his choice of words and the context of his response gave the impression that he was targeting Iranian Shiites in general. He used the pronoun “they” in his reply to the message of Khamenei, who is only one of many Iranians. He also focused on Zoroastrianism, the historical religion of Iranians before Islam, and his reference to historical enmity with Sunnis is further proof that the international media got the story right — this was an attack on Iranian Shiites in general.