IAC Member S. Muhammad Khatami, former President of Iran, calls for an end to Sunni-Shi'a violence

A Joint Appeal To Sunnis And Shi’as – OpEd

Originally published in the Eurasia Review

By S. Muhammad Khatami and Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad

We, the undersigned, are greatly saddened by the violence and bloodshed which have characterised Sunni-Shi’a relations over time. Thousands have been killed in feuds between the two, mostly in certain Muslim countries. It is tragic that many innocent women and children have been among the victims.

Sunni-Shi’a animosity and antagonism have clearly weakened the Muslim ummah. It has made us more vulnerable to the manipulations and machinations of outside elements determined to subvert the unity and integrity of the ummah. It has allowed those who seek to establish their hegemonic power over us to succeed in their objectives.

It is indisputable that Sunni-Shi’a antagonism and conflicts which have resulted in massacres have tarnished the image and dignity of the ummah in the eyes of the world. Few other occurences in recent times have had such a negative impact.

We appeal to all Sunnis and Shi’as, bound as we are by the same faith in Allah, guided by the same Noble Quran, honouring the same last Messenger of Allah, and facing the same Kiblah, to desist from massacring and killing one another immediately.


The two of us – a former Prime Minister from a Sunni majority state, and a former President from an overwhelmingly Shi’a nation – also address this appeal to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which represents all Muslims of whatever sect or doctrine. The OIC could perhaps set up a task force that will examine the Sunni-Shi’a divide in depth and submit concrete proposals for the political and religious leaders of the ummah to act upon.

We also appeal to sincere, concerned individuals and civil society groups from all over the world to join in this endeavour to stop the violence and bloodshed and to promote peace and understanding between Sunnis and Shi’as.

This joint appeal will be widely circulated mainly through the online media. We shall follow up on this appeal with other activities and programmes.

May Allah Subhanahuwataala guide us in all our humble efforts to serve Him.

S. Muhammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic Of Iran (1997-2005)
Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, (1981-2003)