Manama: Al Wefaq, Bahrain's largest Shiite political society, on Sunday lashed out at an Iranian MP for claiming that Bahrainis wanted to be part of Iran, warning him not to misunderstand political differences in Manama as an opportunity to intervene in domestic issues.

"Bahrain is an Arab country and no-one should dispute this fact. Bahrainis do respect all friendly people, including Iranians, but this respect should not be misunderstood as accepting foreign intervention in our domestic issues or as allowing others to doubt our national allegiance or to attempt to undermine our sovereignty," Mohammad Al Mizal, representing Al Wefaq at the lower house, said in a statement, a copy of which was sent to Gulf News.

Last week, Iranian MP Darioush Ghanbari said that if Bahrainis were to vote in a referendum, they would choose to be part of Iran.

His words echoed the inflammatory claim that Bahrain was a "province" of Tehran carried by the Iranian newspaper Kayhan in 2007 which sparked considerable tension in the region.

The diplomatic spat was resolved by a hastily arranged visit of Iran's foreign minister to Manama.

However, this latest attempt by an Iranian public figure to intimidate Bahrainis was regarded by Al Wefaq as an "absolutely unacceptable chauvinistic" move.

"What really matters for the peoples of Bahrain and Iran is co-operation and mutual respect. We resent any attempts to stoke tension through reviving the expansionist ideologies that are supposed to have been buried with the Shah," Al Mizal said.

According to the Bahraini MP, Bahrain has always been an Arab country and that it became Muslim even before Iran knew Islam.

Al Mizal said Ghanbari was both "ignorant" and "sick" for making the referendum claims.

"We are not surprised that the Guardian Council rejected your credentials in the last elections because your ignorance is good enough a reason to drop your candidature. But I am surprised that it was eventually reviewed and you were allowed to run. If you have a problem with your government, then you should confine yourself to your country and do not intervene in the affairs of other countries. You should learn that your sick allegations will not be accepted by the Arab and Muslim people of Bahrain. In fact, they will reinforce national solidarity against the sick expansionist ideologies that you and your similarly sick people entertain," he said.