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  Updated: March 9, 2009

Morocco severs relations with Iran on Shia Islam

By: Sultan Ahmed

RABAT, Morocco: Morocco has cut off diplomatic relations with Iran on Friday accusing Tehran in a rare public spat of trying to spread Shia Islam in this Sunni Arab kingdom, Associated Press reported.

Morocco's Foreign Ministry said that the tensions were compounded by recent Iranian comments toward Bahrain that have raised hackles in the Arab world.

The ministry accused Iran's Embassy in Rabat of trying to "alter the religious fundamentals of the kingdom" and threaten Morocco's religious unity.

The ministry, in a statement, called Iran's actions "intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom."

The Moroccan press has repeatedly accused the Iranian Embassy of proselytism in recent years. The Iranian ambassador denied the charges as recently as last week.

King Mohamed VI is the "commander of the believers (|Amir-ol Mo’minin)" in the country, and the Foreign Ministry's statement equated attacking Moroccan religious unity to challenging the monarch.

Morocco's relations with Tehran were previously cut in the early 1980s, shortly after the Islamic Revolution and Morocco hosted the exiled shah.

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