On August 4, the members of the radical group presenting themselves as "The Mahdi Servants Union" attacked the building of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Great Britain, raised religious flags on the balcony of the building, and chanted radical religious slogans. Although the group members were detained after the intervention of the local police, the incident left many unanswered questions in its wake. However, before answering these questions, it is necessary to consider the history of the "Union of Mehdi's Servants." The head of the organization is the scandalous Yasir Al-Habib. While he pretends himself as a Shia cleric, influential Shia ulama refuse to recognize Al-Habib as a religious figure.
He was born in Kuwait on January 20, 1979, and studied political sciences at the university of Kuwait. Moreover, he got religious lessons from Ayatullah Sadig al-Shirazi, in Qom, Iran. It is known that his radical religious views formed namely during that period.
Establishing "The Mahdi Servants Union" in Kuwait, in 2001, Al-Habib made tough speeches about the Sunni sect. He used rude and in some cases insulting expressions about Abu Bakr, who became caliph after Prophet Muhammad, Omar, and Osman, Aisha's wife of the prophet. By doing so, he faced the wrath of influential religious figures.
It can be said with full reason that Yasir Al Habibi feel comfortable himself in Britain
In November 2003, he was detained by the Kuwaiti security forces and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2004 due to the views he voiced about the companions of the Prophet Muhammad during a speech in front of an audience in a closed religious space. Yasir Al-Habib later fled Kuwait after his prison term was reduced due to a national holiday. After living in Iran and Iraq for a while, he was given political asylum in Great Britain.
A favorable condition emerged in namely London for the activity of "The Mahdi Servants Union". It can be said with full reason that Yasir Al Habibi feels comfortable in Britain.
In addition, it is obvious that the organization needs serious financial support. Thus, in 2013, members of the religious sect bought a former church in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire for £1.2 million and turned it into Al Muhassin Mosque. At the same time, the film "The Lady of Heaven", which they financed for 15 million dollars and dedicated to Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, caused a big scandal.
The film, based on the script of Yasir Al-Habib, was met with serious opposition because it presented information about the Prophet's family in a distorted form. Against the background of protests of British Muslims, and security factors, the film was prohibited from showing in cinemas.
As can be seen, "Mahdi Servants Union" operates as a radical and provocative group that is not recognized by any Muslim countries and influential religious figures. This marginal group with a few hundred supporters has become a tool in the hands of certain political circles trying to create geopolitical and regional tension.
The timing of the attack cannot be considered a coincidence
Yesterday's attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in London served exactly these goals. The timing of the attack cannot be considered a coincidence either.
The attack on the embassy building in London took place against the backdrop of provocation against our Army by illegal Armenian armed groups located in the territory under the temporary control of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, and at the same time before the "Ashura" ceremony, which will take place on August 8, and they used it to create additional tension. Also, it should not be overlooked that this event happened shortly after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on energy between Azerbaijan and the European Union on July 18.
It should be recalled that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, called Azerbaijan a crucial partner on the way to Europe's supply security and climate neutrality, and assessed the importance of the agreement.
Apparently, the fact that Azerbaijan will have a leading role in ensuring Europe's energy security in the coming years was one of the points of concern for the center that executed Yasir Al-Habib's order.
"The Mahdi Servants Union" tried to harm the image of Azerbaijan as a secular country
With this action, the curators of "The Mahdi Servants Union" also tried to damage the image of Azerbaijan as a secular country, to create a false impression about the persecution of religious people in the country, and the restriction of religious ceremonies. It is no secret that Azerbaijan is a unitary state with a secular structure, where religion is separated from the state, yet the majority of its population worships Islam. Not everyone liked the fact that modernity, secularism, and religion successfully unite, and that it belongs to the Islamic civilization, but also has universal, civilized, secular, tolerant and multicultural values.
That is why the provocative attack took place in one of the main political and financial centers of Europe, in London, where the world's leading mass media are located.
The mainstream Western media largely "ignored" this cheap provocation
The goal was to attract the attention of the world media through the ugly action, to damage the multicultural image that Azerbaijan has displayed for years and is an example to most countries of the world. But the leading Western media largely "ignored" this cheap provocation.
It should be noted that for the "black PR" action carried out on religious grounds, small groups are also used within Azerbaijan, which goes to the root of radical propaganda and does not understand that they have become a tool for insidious plans. Those groups fulfill the task of the center and artificially create agitation on religious grounds in the country, present separate events as systematic persecution, and share various types of videos on social networks.
Thanks to those videos, "persecutions", the relevant background is created for the provocations, and after that, the foreign patrons of those radicals enter the events.
Looking at the chronology of the incidents in London, during the last few days, similar technologies were used, and before the incident, videos were shared on social networks about the alleged persecution and restrictions of religious people.
On the other hand, the inactivity and serious shortcomings of the UK law enforcement agencies are also in sight. Because according to international law, the security of the embassy must be ensured by the country where it is located. This is stated in Article 22.2 of the Vienna Convention, which was adopted in 1961 and defines the operational regulations of diplomatic missions:
"The hosting state has a special obligation to take all necessary measures to protect the embassy premises from all attacks and damage and to prevent any disturbance of peace or insult to the honor of the embassy."
Great Britain failed to fulfill its special obligation
It seems that Great Britain has not been able to fulfill its special obligation. Before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, British intelligence, which accurately predicted the date of the start of military operations, provided detailed information to the public about the progress of the war, the losses and displacements of the Russian army, but could not prevent an attack plan involving dozens of people in the heart of the country, in London.
However, official London could draw conclusions from previous unpleasant incidents involving the diplomatic corps. For example, on March 10, 2018, members of the group replaced the Iranian flag with the flag of their group by going to the balcony of the first floor of the Iranian Embassy in London in protest against the detention of Ayatollah Hossein Shirazi, the son of Ayatollah Sadiq Shirazi, after his critical speech targeting the Iranian leadership. At that time, they also had cold weapons on them.
In this regard, it seems natural for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan to object to the charge d'affaires of the British Embassy in our country and to demand a guarantee from the other side that such situations will not be repeated again.
But the ugly provocation and "black PR" action planned against the state of Azerbaijan was essentially a complete fiasco. The attack on the embassy building in London was met with disgust by all sections of Azerbaijani society, including religious people. The provocation demonstrated that there is unity between secular and religious citizens in Azerbaijan, and that the people of the country are primarily loyal to the traditions of statehood.