In a tit-for-tat retaliatory attack, Shiite hackers infiltrated Sunni religious websites Monday in response to attack on prominent Shiite websites earlier this month.
The Shiite hackers posted a face painted with the Iranian flag with a logo resembling that of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a picture of the Israeli flag split in two by the Arabian Gulf embossed with words "The Persian Gulf."
The hackers also posted a verse from the Quran reads "Assault those who assaulted you" in reference to the hacking by Sunnis of the Ahlulbayt Global Information Center, the largest Shiite website in the world, which is supervised by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
In the cyber-attack earlier this month Sunni hackers posted a religious chant and a video by American comedian Bill Maher in which he made fun of Sistani’s "sexual fatwas."
Among the websites devoted to Sunni teachings hit was Islam Net, a site supervised by Saudi preacher Dr. Aaidh al-Qarni, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported on Monday.
"The entire website is damaged and all its content is lost," Qarmi told the paper, describing the hacking as "ugly and aggressive" as well as contradictory to Iran's calls for bridge-building between Sunnis and Shiites.
Islamist scholar Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Qassem said that this exchange of hacking is a projection of the conflict in the Muslim world between Sunni and Shiite faiths, especially as far as missionary activities are concerned.
"These hackings were done by extremist Shiite youth,” Qassem told the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan on Monday. “They were infuriated by the statements of Sunni Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in which he warned of the Shiite missionary infiltration of the Sunni world."
Qarni suggested that hackers targeted his website in opposition to his support of Qaradawi.
Sheikh Faleh al-Sagheer, whose website Al-Burhan was hacked, described the attacks as "uncalled for" and said that preliminary estimates indicated that the number of hacked Sunni websites could reach 900.
The UAE-based Sunni hacker group Ghoroub X.P. had targeted about 300 Shiite websites for hacking, including Sistani’s Ahl al-Bayt, according to Iranian news agency Fares.
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)