Incidents of Anti-Shiism in July, 2017

Monthly Analysis: July 2017

The 20 attacks that occurred in July left the Shia population in a position susceptible to human rights violations. Despite the overall decrease in casualties in July from June of 2017, 262 individuals were killed and 53 were wounded. These large numbers bare witness to the continued systematic targeting of the Shia Muslim population around the world. The violations of human rights range from arrest and detainment, to sexual abuse and torture in prisons, and as seen this month, mass execution.

Shia Rights Watch (SRW) has compiled a list of the reported attacks that occurred in July, confirmed through extensive research and collaboration with Shia rights activists around the world. This report will detail the reported instances both physical and psychological, including deaths, injuries, sentencing, and tortures.

The cases detailed have occurred across several countries including: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Further attacks and human rights violations may have occurred in other places, however, this list consists of the cases recorded by SRW researchers. Incidents often go unreported due high risks and fear of attack and/or further social discrimination.

Iraq

Fewer numbers of attacks and casualties have been reported in the month of July in Iraq. However, the casualties are much larger due to isolated massacres conducted by ISIS in small pockets of power such as Tal Afar and Hawija. Tal Afar witnessed a systematic massacre of 200 civilians on July 5th. Such an attack can be explained as a way to reassert ISIS’s dominance after their increasing losses in Mosul.

ISIS first declared Mosul its Islamic Caliphate in 2014, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the city on July 9 after the strenuous three-year battle for control on. The Iraqi army forced the group to retreat from the city, and has pushed ISIS into cities like Tal Afar. The Islamic State is now consolidating power in Tal Afar and it remains the closest ISIS-controlled urban area the so-called caliphate that can be used to launch terror operations back into Mosul.

To the southeast, the capital city of Baghdad witnessed seven attacks in July. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and adhesive explosive devices (AEDs) remain a reality in the city. This is a sharp decline from the twelve attacks in June which specifically targeted busy Shia areas. The cooling down of attack efforts may be attributed to the end of Ramadan, which ISIS claims to be the “holy month of Jihad.”

The end of Ramadan, paired with the drastic decline in Islamic State power, may be the cause of the decreased number of attacks against the Shia population in July. However, the massacre at Tal Afar provides a grim portrayal of how ISIS might continue to operate as it loses control in areas throughout Iraq and maintains its control over its remaining footholds.

Bahrain

The ethnic and religious backgrounds of Bahrain intertwine the political, economic, and social realms of influence. Bahrain is neighbored by the Middle East’s most prominent Muslim nations: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west, the Islamic Republic of Iran to the north and east, and the State of Qatar to the southeast. The influence from these powerful neighbors, along with the unique history of the region, explicate the ethnic and religious composition of the country. While the exact religious demographics are still unknown and a highly contentious issue, it is estimated that of the Muslim population, roughly 70% are Shia and 30% Sunni. Despite this uneven divide, the government is ruled by a Sunni royal family, and a human rights dilemma has emerged out of this power dynamic. The cases reported in July displayed the continuation of human rights violations against Bahraini Shia Muslims and the relentless government pushback against rising humanitarian concerns.  

Prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab received a two-year sentence on July 10th after being accused of spreading ‘fake news’ about Bahraini authorities. This sentencing caused outrage by several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and came shortly after the release of Torture in Bahrain: A State Behavior & A Systematic Policy, a report condemning the torture of prisoners by five human rights organizations within Bahrain.

Yousef Ali Riza reported sexual harassment by guards in his prison cell on July 3rd, the same day that Ebtisam al-Saegh was detained the second time for government criticism on social media. Al-Saegh was previously held in May where she reported torture and sexual assault. She started an open-ended hunger strike on July 11th, but by the 25th she was reported to have lost eleven kilos. Further diagnosis of her health showed a fracture in her right arm sustained from previous torture.

Continued reports of human rights infractions demonstrate the need for reform in Bahrain’s treatment of prisoners and expose the need for global attention on this issue. The Bahraini authorities arrested Shia cleric Sheikh Hani al-Banaa’ while he was visiting his detained son in Dry Dock Prison on July 3rd. Al-Banaa’ was released after being held in the prison for nine days. Another prisoner, Hussein Mohamed Habib died on July 5th after being arrested and subjected to severe torture and abuse in prison in March 2011.

Unfortunately, mistreatment of Bahraini citizens extends from what has occurred in prisons. On July 20th in the northwestern coastal town of al-Budaiya, state troopers stormed the house of Sheikh Bashar al-Aali and arrested the cleric without providing any reasons. Another situation occurred in July 28th, where Bahraini authorities charged 60 Shia for forming a group against the king. These individuals were accused of “forming a terrorist group,” and show the continued suppression of government opposition.

In addition to the reprehensible treatment of prisoners, many Bahrainis have lost their citizenship. By July 8th, 103 people had citizenship revoked or denied during 2017. On July 22, the wife of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Deqaq lost her citizenship after refusing to spy on her husband. The denial and revoking of citizenship has seemingly become the way in which the Bahraini government suppresses their critics. Loss of citizenship in combination with the growing detention of human rights advocates and their ill-treatment while in prison reinforces the regime’s systematic crackdown on minority populations and Shia Muslims in the country.

Pakistan

Although less casualties have been reported in Pakistan since the end of Ramadan, the Shia minority feel no more secure. More than 2,000 Shia have been killed in Pakistan since 2002, and the incidents in July show this number continuing to rise. Groups like Lashkar-e-Jhagvi, an extremist Sunni militant group, have pledged: “all Shias are worthy of killing and the intention is to make Pakistan their graveyard,” according to an open letter they wrote to the Hazara people in Baluchistan.

           Recently, two Shia brothers were arrested without declared charges, rendering the arrests illegal. There has yet to be a statement, but the two brothers are under “enforced disappearance,” according to local activist.

Also, just 25 miles south of Quetta, in Baluchistan, a group of Hazara Shia were on their way to the port city of Karachi on July 19. A drive-by shooter pulled up and riddled their vehicle with bullets. Three men and one woman were killed.

The fear generated by attacks similar to this one have caused some Shia to avoid traveling alone. Even the government fears that people of the Islamic sect travel at their own peril. This July, around 1,000 Shia on their way back from pilgrimage from holy sites in Iran and Iraq found themselves unable to continue at the border between Iran and Pakistan in the border town of Taftan. The pilgrims found themselves with the option of having to continue through hostile territory that is extremely dangerous for Shia without protection. They refused, and the Pakistani government is currently rallying forces to send as escorts, but the effort is taking long. Conditions are breaking down, but the pilgrims would rather put up with the harsh environment than risk traveling through Pakistan unguarded.

Pakistan is growing increasingly dangerous to the livelihood of Shia Muslims. ISIS’s growing influence in Afghanistan is emboldening Pakistani Deobandi groups to act in likeness with ISIS’s cruelty. Their intention to annihilate the Shia population is daunting considering the Shia make up one third of Pakistan, but that’s not discouraging some from picking them off little-by-little. The Pakistani government needs to further engage this issue by implementing special protection in Shia-dominated towns like Quetta in Baluchistan. If neglected, the issue can easily find its footing on a slippery slope to sectarian violence.

Saudi Arabia

Al Awamiyah, in the Qatif region of eastern Saudi Arabia, remains a contentious town as Saudi forces maintain their siege. The town itself dates back to the Ottoman Empire 200 years ago, and the town’s historic center is being demolished. The constant raids have injured large numbers of civilians, and Saudi forces have responded to protests with a tight crackdown against its opposition.

The Kingdom carried out four executions of Shia Muslims for their participation in protests in Al Awamiyah.  This area has been under extreme lock-down since July 26th. 

The Shia population has been promised safe conduct of leave. Before, however, soldiers milled the streets firing at anyone walking by. Vehicles packed with luggage exited the city hanging white T-shirts as white flags with hopes that soldiers won’t fire upon said vehicle. A group of Asian migrants were forced to strip and lie on their stomachs in the middle of the street. Al-Musawarah, a neighborhood with structures dating back to the Ottoman Empire, is falling victim to Saudi bulldozers. 
Saudi raids continue in the region, as just days later, two men were shot and wounded on 11 July. On July 13th, a court in Saudi Arabia has postponed the trial of Shia cleric Sheikh Hussein al-Radhi over his pro-democracy comments as Riyadh presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on members of the Shia community. In another raid on July 15th, Hassan Abdullah, Ja’far Mubayrik and ‘Saadiq Darvish were killed by Saudi forces.

Saudi troops, equipped with heavy weapons, attacked Al- Awamiyah town, damaging and destroying several homes, business and historical sites. Residence were asked to stay home while the government shut down their internet and phone lines. Two Shia reported killed during the attack on July 26th. Just four days later, three men were killed in a raid in a parking lot. On July 29th, Saudi snipers shot and killed Ali Mahdi al-Sobeiti and Hussain Abdullah al-Sobeiti on the road to an Awamiyah.

The Saudi Arabian Supreme Court upholds the death sentences of 14 Saudi Shia after an unfair mass trial and it is a worrisome reminder of the country’s lethal crackdown on dissent. Fourteen Shia waiting to be executed are following:

  1. Hussain Muhammd al-Muslim
  2. Muhammad Mansur al- Mansure
  3. Mustafa Ahmad Darwish
  4. Fazil Hussain Labbad
  5. Saeed Mihammad al-Sakafi
  6. Salman Amin al-Quraish
  7. Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat
  8. Muneer Abdulah al-Adam
  9. Abdulah Salman al-Sarih
  10. AbdulAziz Hassan al-sahwi
  11. Ahmad al-Rabia
  12. Ahmad Feisal al-Darwish
  13. Hussain Hassan al-Rabia
  14. Abdula Hani al-Tarif

The lack of proof of serious allegation is a serious development, as SRW, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International point out a sharp rise of death sentences for Shia Muslims carried out by the Kingdom.

Syria

The town of Hama was home to death of two Shia women and the injury of 11 others as a suicide bomber detonated his vest. Sources report the diffusion of two other bombs at the site. The bomb caused extensive damage to the Imam Muslim Mosque and a bus station nearby.

In 2017 alone, there have been over 240 deaths as a result of anti-Shiism. The attacks were propagated by anti-Shia extremists taking advantage of the social and political distress in the nation.

Nigeria

On Friday, 7 July, the Federal High Court in Nigeria rejected the suit of Shia cleric

Ibrahim Zakzaky. Zakzaky brought forth a suit through which he meant to sue the Nigerian government for $5.6 million in damages over a December 2015 attack in which the Nigerian government killed 347 Shia Muslims including Zakzaky’s three children in the city of Zaria in the northern state of Kaduna. The dead were then buried in a mass grave.

The Shia population is a small minority of the Muslim population. The demographics of all Nigeria include 50% Christians and 50% Muslims.

Afghanistan

A car filled with explosives rammed into a bus and detonated killing 24 people and wounding 40. The attack occurred near a prominent Shia cleric’s house, so it is unclear whether the bus was the actual target. June saw two other attacks targeting the Shia population.

The Hazara ethnic group make up a large portion of Afghanistan’s Shia population. For decades, the Hazara have been under attack by extremist organization and have lived a marginalized life. Increased attention is needed on the case of Hazara’s when addressing anti-Shiism in Afghanistan.

Kuwait

Late July, Kuwaiti officials suspended license for a locally operated Shia TV station, ceasing their operations. While Kuwait historically has displayed acceptance and inclusion for their Shia population, a recent increase in targeting of Shia media and scholars can be seen.

Shia Rights Watch in concerned of increasing actions limiting the freedom of speech in Kuwait.

Conclusion

The month of July stood witness to just over 260 deaths and with 53 injuries as a result of anti-Shiism. SRW estimates the death rate to increase as many of those injured were in critical condition and treated in areas with limited medical resources.

Shia Muslims continue to live in fear as they are ostracized in their home nations, and arrests of Shia activists and scholars continue in the Gulf states and the surrounding nations. The increased incidents of anti-Shiism are consistent with those estimated in previous reports. With arrests and ill-treatment of prominent activists such as Ibtissam al-Saegh and Nabeel Rajab, anti-shiism remains as strong as ever.  

In Saudi Arabia, the siege in al-Awamiya continues. Despite international efforts, the death count continues to rise. Many of those killed by government shootings are women, children, and immigrant workers. Activists and humanitarians are standing up to the injustice, but are facing the backlash from governments and other major actors. Shia Rights Watch calls for governments across the region to increase protections on Shia and other religious minorities, and to reverse and stop all ill-treatment of these populations. SRW urges the Saudi government to reverse their sentences condemning fourteen protesters of the al-Awamiya raids to death. Shia Rights Watch demands the release of all pro-democracy activists and religious scholars in the Gulf nations. Further, Shia Rights Watch condemns the siege on Awamiya and warns of the dangers of continued marginalization in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and across the region.




Bi-Annual Anti-Shiism Report

Intro

The first half of 2017 has been a turbulent time for Shia Muslims all over the world. Anti-Shiism, or the active targeting of Shia Muslim to limit their visibility and expression, was prevalent in across the globe.

Shia Muslims, including their sub groups, make up approximately 50% of the total Muslim population. Although exact data of Shia demographic remain impossible to collect due to extreme marginalization, a study of current cases of anti-Shiism have been documented by Shia Rights Watch researchers and activist.

This report is a compilation and analysis of trends in anti-Shiism in the six months of January to June 2017.  In this report, cases of anti-Shiism in the nations of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Madagascar are examined. Violations include arrests, vandalism, deaths by unnatural means, and injuries.  It is important to note that Shia rights abuses listed in this report are a summary of incidents that have reached SRW. Violations are not limited to those in this report. More information can be found on ShiaRightsWatch.org.

 

Gulf Nations

Anti-Shiism in Gulf nations has skyrocketed after the Arab Spring of 2011. In fears of an up rise, Gulf countries, specifically Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have increased limitations on their critics.   Pro-rights protests in these nations are thwarted with the utmost violence.

Bahrain

Shia Rights Watch_AntiShiism

The Kingdom of Bahrain has been home to systemic suppression of human rights. Bahrain is a Shia majority nation headed by a non-Shia monarchy. Unlike democratic efforts of other Arab countries in the Middle East, efforts for rights and recognition have remained unnoticed for Bahraini citizens.

The six month period between January and June 30, 2017, a total of 982 people has been arrested. Arrests were with aims to suppress protests. Some were arrested in peaceful protest and others by night time raids. Bahrain has shown little mercy in suppression as 84 of those arrested are minors, and 28 are women.

Approximately 30% of the total arrests, 286, were in a single day in Diraz, Bahrain. On May 23, an armed attack on protesters killed five and wounded dozens. Protestors had arranged a sit in around the home of Sheikh Isa Qassim, who was sentenced to one year in prison and revoked of citizenship earlier that month. After Qassims arrest, the town of Diraz was blockaded, and residents were subject to checkpoints and travel restrictions. Phone and internet lines were cut off for significant hours in the day to limit media contact.

-Protest Met with Violence-

Although protests and demonstrations have been peaceful and demonstrators are unarmed, Bahraini forces meet them with the utmost violence. Bird shot pellets used by forces have led to the death and permanent injury of many protestors and bystanders. Travel restrictions and discrimination have left those injured without medical care as ambulances cannot enter the town and hospitals are ordered not to treat injured protestors. Those arrested report harsh torture and violence in detainment. Ebtissam al-Saegh, a prominent activist has testified sexual assault and coercion of false confessions. Human rights activists striving for democracy in Bahrain report verbal and physical assault as well as threats to thier dignity and even family.

The government’s unwillingness to engage in dialogue has created a rift between it and its citizens. Sources say, Bahraini citizens, do not trust the government. This mistrust, one can relate to the lack of sufficient representation in legislation and years in the suppression of rights by officials. Furthermore, sources report that the extent of Saudi involvement in Bahrain undermines the Bahraini government. Many feel as though dialogue with Bahraini officials are insignificant as officials are under the influence of Saudi policy.

-Future of Bahrain-

With many children and women under arrest, the future of Bahrain is widely destabilized. Children arrested are not able to attend school and in many cases, are not given the opportunity to make up missed work. The current lack of national stability because of direct violence creates an opportunity for foreign involvement in Bahrain. Mistrust and lack of cooperation among protestors and the government have also led to a shift in national identity. SRW predicts a decreased rate in Bahrain’s educated population. Further, due to the increased detainment of women and the high rate of mortality for Shia men, SRW predicts a rise in single parent families and even orphan children. These predictions are further supported by the approximate 780 sentenced Bahraini citizens and the revocation of 92 others. To this point, over 60 people have been given life sentences. The numbers are expected to rise as Bahrain has issued death sentences for many activist despite a de facto moratorium on the death penalty.

Saudi Arabia

Although Shia in Saudi Arabia have practiced their faith in hiding and have lived under marginalization for decades, the last six months note augmentation of violence against this population.

Shia in Saudi Arabia have lived under pressure to conform to the nation’s extremist ideology and forgo their own identity. Since the origin of the kingdom, Shia Muslims have been marginalized; their towns provided the least government funds- lacking in infrastructure and maintenance. Despite their living quarters being home to one of Saudi’s largest oil drills, Shia Muslims are left in the worst of the nation’s conditions of life. Drilling has caused air, and noise pollution and the citizens of the Eastern province are allowed minimal say in policy. While they at least make up over 20% of the population, Shia Muslims lack adequate representation in the government.

-Sources of Anti-Shiism-

Anti-Shiism in Saudi Arabia is fueled by social and religious indoctrination. In numerous cases, Saudi clerics have announced Shia Muslims as outsiders and have deemed them unequal to the nation’s majority Wahhabi population. These beliefs are furthered through educational books and lessons. Information on sources of anti-Shiism can be found on ShiaRightsWatch.org

Shia Rights Watch_AntiShiism

-Continued Violence-

In the first six months of 2017, the nature of anti-Shiism in this nation shifted. What was once a structural and cultural discrimination becoming direct violence. In mid-May, a siege in the town of Al-Awamiyah became a public attack on this religious sect.  The siege began around 3 am. All entrances to the city were closed, and forces shot at buildings and automobiles. Residents were forced from their homes and business were closed.

The government’s claim of aiming to “renew the district” is undermined by social media hashtags and trends used by Saudi forces calling for a “cleansing” of the kingdom from Shia.

The government is threatening the identity of Shia Muslims by demolishing historical sites in Al-Awamiyah. With the demolishment of the al-Baqee cemetery in 1925, Shia in Saudi Arabia lives in fear of not having a presence in their home nation. Further, the decision to “renew” was taken without any representation from the residence, thus adding to their unwillingness to trust the government’s claims.

In attempted to maintain order, forces shot indiscriminately at civilians. The death toll in Saudi Arabia has reached 20. Javad al- Dagher of two years and his family were among those killed. Over 40 people have been wounded in the strife; 15 others have been arrested and face the harsh and unforgiving climate of Saudi prisons. Until now, 14 people have been sentenced to death.

-Regional Instability-

Anti-Shiism in Saudi Arabia has not only incited conflict in the nation; it has led to regional instability. Some state the source of anti-Shiism in Saudi Arabia is fear of Iranian expansion in the region. However, Shia in Saudi Arabia, as well as other nations in the region, have renounced such association.  By pressuring their citizens and falsely associating them with a foreign power, Saudi Arabia is increasing insecurity in the Middle East.

Pakistan

Shia Rights Watch_AntiShiismPakistan stood witness to the death of 193 and wounding 466 others. Incidents of anti-Shiism occurred mainly in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), Punjab and Baluchistan.

 

Attacks were carried out by LeJ, TTO, and SeS. Regions of high incidents of anti-Shiism span Pakistan and are mainly cities with a semi-open border with Afghanistan. All attacks occurred in public locations. Both attacks in Parachinar, Kurram Region, occurred in densely populated regions of town.

 

The targeting of a single population by a number of the nation’s biggest terror organizations points to an existing collective culture of anti-Shiism in which different groups compete to be the most successful.  The willingness of these groups to put aside rivalry and work together in orchestrating attacks show the extent of cultural violence against Shia Muslims.

The lack of justice in cases against minority groups in Pakistan are due to existing discrimination within police forces. Many activists have reported a slow cases processing and lack of follow-up on incidents of anti-Shiism.

-Undiscovered Powers-

After the June 24 attacks in Parachinar, governor Iqbal Zafar, on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, distributed Rs 500,000 (appx $5000) to those injured and Rs 1,000,000 (appx $9000) to families of lost loved ones. Compensations came after cross-country protest. Shia Rights Watch estimates, at a minimum, $780,000 was given out by Iqbal Zafar. The Pakistani government aims to compensate death of human life with money, not understanding that conflict cannot be resolved by monetary means. The money handed out to victims of the Parachinar attacks was a means of suppressing protests. The government’s actions display a lack of understanding of the Shia population as Shia in Pakistan are educated and in the position of power as lawyers, doctors and policy makers- money is not a limited resource for many.

Shia Muslims in Pakistan inhabit geopolitically significant areas. Baluchistan, for instance, is rich in natural resource reservoirs and is a key strategic region for Pakistan-Afghanistan diplomacy. Punjab is one of the most economically prosperous regions of Pakistan. Instability in any of those regions creates instability in the area, and thus with the pressures of neighboring countries, the government of Pakistan does the most to reinstate order.

Shia Rights Watch_AntiShiism

However, counter terrorism effort is misplaced. On June 11, Taimoor Raza was sentenced to death over Facebook content in Okara, Punjab by a “Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016” which aims to restrict cybercrime offenses. Pakistan’s officials fail to provide effectual security and prevention of hate-crime against Shia communities. Officials are willing to provide monetary compensation to limit social unrest. Shia Rights Watch suggests increased efforts of crime prevention and increased education. Thus, far, post-conflict compensation has been far more expensive that any peace-building effort, and until steps are taken to limit the growth of extremism, in stability in Pakistan will continue.

Syria

Shia in Syria populate the cities of Deir al-Zour, Haoula, Khan al-Asad, Idlib, Nubul, al-Zahra, Hama, al-Foua, Keferya, Homs, and Zarzur. To this point, the conflict in Syria has led to the death of over 400,000 people, a significant portion of which are Shia Muslims in addition to political conflict, Shia in Syria suffers from targeted killing by active terror groups such that of ISIS.

Shia Rights Watch_AntiShiismDiscreet numbers of anti-Shia incidents are limited due to the turbulent status of the nation. However, despite limitations, SRW estimates continued targeting of Shia Muslims as per ground sources as well as the statistical prevalence of attacks on Shia towns and cities.

The largest reported incident of anti-Shiism was in the village of al-Foua, and Kefarya in which a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying children evacuated from the town- 150, 72 of which were children, were found dead because of the explosion.

Sources in Syria report an attack on the city of Hama as the next largest reported attack in Syria. Of the 50 killed, 24 were women and children. Medical personnel in nearby hospital report death by blunt force trauma by rocks and stones. Despite immense efforts, retrieval of bodies was not possible as many of the bodies were dismembered beyond recognition. The extent of damage to the deceased points to an ideology that views Shia as non-human.

Among incidents of anti-Shiism are double bombs killing 40 Iraqi pilgrims visiting the Zainabiya Shrine and wounding 120 others.

ISIS and their affiliates are fueled by anti-Shia sentiment taught by the Wahabi school of thought. The coordinated attacks which target pilgrims and evacuees point to an anti-Shia agenda consistent with the Wahhabi ideology.

Iraq

Iraq remains one of the most turbulent locations for Shia Muslims. ISIS infiltration and lack of government security create an opportunity for anti-Shiism. In the first six months of 2017, 260 people have lost their lives, and approximately 250 people have been injured as a result of anti-Shia sentiment.

Consistent with a five-year trend, Shia neighborhoods of Baghdad remain one of the most targeted areas. As early as January, suicide bombings claimed the life of 20 and injured more than 60 people in a marketplace in the district of Jamila. A week later, a car bombing killed 48 and left tens of others injured.

Karbala was also home to Shia Muslims killed in the past six months. In the Musayyib district, east of Karbala, a woman detonated her vest killing 34. On the same day, a bomb at the entrance of the city killed 4, and a failed explosive was cleared from the holy Shrine located in Karbala.

Same day bombings are signs of existing extremist networks that remain prosperous despite anti-ISIS efforts.

Iraq is home to many important Shia shrines and historical sights. These locations ensure a constant influx of Shia Muslims to the nation. Thus, Shia Rights Watch calls for a plan of security that is unique to this nations traveler entry.

Iran

In the first half of 2017, the world stood witness to an explicit expansion of ISIS forces. Early June, ISIS forces detonated explosives in two key political locations in Iran: the parliament and the Khomeini Mausoleum. The setting of the incident was highly symbolic to the Revolution of 1979.

 

Terrorists entered the administrative building as constituents, some women, and detonated explosive vests killing 12 and wounding 40 others. ISIS later released video accounting for their time within the parliament building inducing fear of increased ISIS activity in the nation.

In addition to increased tensions in the region, this incident was a show of anti-Shiism as ISIS forces targeted one of the most Shia populated countries in the Middle East.  Attacks in Iran point to a definite shift an anti-Shiism.

 

Madagascar

Due to the islands vast resources, Madagascar has been home to increased Muslim immigration. Mid-May, Yanish Ismail, son of a prominent Shia businessman was kidnapped by 14 armed assailants as he was attending a funeral.

Ismail’s case is the second incident of anti-Shiism in the past five years. SRW fears a wave of anti-Shiism in this nation. Roots of hate crimes, SRW predicts, spreads from existing anti-Shiism in other countries.

Shia Rights Watch_AntiShiism

Afghanistan

From January to June 30, 17 lives were lost, and 23 were injured as a result of anti-Shiism.   Of total incidents, 65% of attacks occurred in the month of June. Early June, a motorbike bomb detonated outside Jama Mosque of Herat, killing 7 and wounding 16. Later that month, a terrorist targeted a Shia mosque outside of Kabul. After exchanging fire with police, he entered the mosque kitchen and detonated his explosive vest. The incident led to the death of four and left seven others injured.

The Hazara ethnic group are frequently targeted as they are identified in features and widely recognized as Shia Muslims. Structural anti-Shiism in Afghanistan has led to a lack of protection and prosecution of this ethnic community.

Mass exposure was guaranteed in both attacks as terrorists targeted Shia mosques, and that in the month of Ramadhan. Muslims regard Ramadhan as a holy month. However, anti-Shia organizations such that of ISIS and the Taliban do not consider Shia as Muslims. Previous to Ramadhan, in a speech, ISIS leaders renounced Shia, called for their cleansing and promoted the month of Ramadhan as the best month for anti-Shia action.

 

Global Trends of Anti-Shiism

A macro-scale analysis of cases of violence against Shia Muslims shows significant trends. Such patterns can be used to analyze Anti-Shiism and plan peace building endeavors.

Analysis of anti-Shia cases points to widespread cultural violence because of miseducation. For decades, the Wahhabi school of thought has promoted education dehumanizing Shia Muslims. Some historians have identified the political and economic basis of such education. More information on historical cases of anti-Shiism can be found on ShiaRightsWatch.org. Anti-Shia education can be found in the Middle East and North Africa, and such education has become a cultural feature. A culture that undermines Shia Muslims as human-beings with fundamental rights has allowed hate-crime by a violent group to prosper. In addition to ideological targeting, anti-Shiism occurs because of misrepresentation of Shia Muslims. For instance, sources report anti-Shiism in immigrant populations who see Shia Muslims as the source of insecurity in their jobs. Their lack of awareness of who the Shia are lead them to criminalize Shia and the Shia struggle for recognition.

In some cases, explosions are coordinated by time, date and location. Synchronization, analyst claim, tells tales of existing networks and communications among different terror organizations with a shared ideology. The fact that most the attacks were suicide bombers point to the extent at which attackers hold the anti-Shia ideology.

The setting of attacks is in confirmation that attacks reported in this report were not random, but targeted towards mass Shia populations. Attacks are aimed at limiting Shia visibility and expression.

 

Anticipating the Next Six Months

Prosecution of agents of Anti-Shiism is practically non-existent in the aforementioned nations. In states in which the national government leads anti-Shia efforts, justice seems far-fetched for many. In Pakistan and Iraq, anti-terrorism efforts do not meet minority efforts thus endangering Shia constituents.

Shia Rights Watch anticipates a spread of anti-Shiism to other regions of the world. In both Europe and South Asia, incidents have been seen. Although these events were isolated, they did cause infrastructure damage, physical and psychological damage to Shia Muslims in those areas. Details on incidents in South Asia and Europe can be found on ShiaRightsWatch.org.

Incidents of anti-Shiism will continue to rise in the next six months unless efforts to decrease hate crimes are taken. Incidents of anti-Shiism tend to grow in holy months, especially in Moharram, a month many recognize as the corner-stone of the Shia identity. Moharram begins in September 2017, and with it, Shia processions will be in danger of violence unless measures to protect this population takes place.

-Suggestions-
  • Dialogue between governments and constituents
    • Both activists and government officials must realize dialogue and cooperation are the only means of building understanding and coexistence in their nations. Common aims must be identified and used as the basis for building a prosperous nation.
  • Increased activism of Shia Muslims in their communities
    • As the most powerful force against anti-Shiism, Shia Muslims must empower their communities for self-expression. Shia Muslims must build a presence in their nations by being ideal citizens in their countries in the international communities.
  • Education on human rights for all minority populations
    • Minority communities must be aware of their rights as given by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and their nation’s constitution. Minority populations must be able to recognize discrepancies in their rights and take peaceful steps in raising awareness.
  • Raising accurate media coverage
    • The media is a major medium for raising awareness and education. Shia Rights Watch calls upon media outlets to check accuracy and provide un-biased coverage of Shia Muslims.
    • Shia Rights Watch further encourages active Shia communication with local and international news sources. Shia communities are the best first line defense against anti-Shiism, thus they must work with media outlets to raise awareness in regards to their communities and remove misconceptions.



Incidents of Anti-Shiism in JUNE, 2017

June 2017
Anti-Shiism Across the Middle East

As anti-Shiism runs high, over 133 were killed in the month of June. New this month are attacks on Iranian soil and a death sentence given by social media posting in Pakistan. A compilation of news from on the grounds sources and major news agencies point to the prevalence of anti-Shiism at the heart of recent terror attacks. All cases reported in this report were proven authentic via research and corroboration with Shia rights activists in each country. This report will examine cases of Shia deaths, injuries, and arrests.

Anti-Shiism in June occurred in but were not limited to Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. It is important to note that Shia rights violations listed in this report are a summary of incidents that have reached Shia Rights Watch (SRW). A lack of reporting by victims is mainly due to the systemic, cultural and direct violence within the non-Shia States. Thus Shia Muslims fear to report crimes as it may lead to loss of life and social isolation. More information can be found on ShiaRightsWatch.org.

While all nations listed in this report are areas of concern for Shia Rights Watch, the following countries displayed a shift in anti-Shiism dynamics. In 2016, Pakistan announced a “Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016,” making online postings grounds for charges. This law has been deemed highly controversial as its punishments are “harsh” and its lack of-of concise language leaves room for misuse by authority figures. Now, this law has been the grounds for execution charges for a Shia individual. More information regarding this case can be seen later in the report or online at ShiaRightsWatch.org.

The second nation of concern in the month of June is Iran as this country has witnessed its first ISIS attack its soil. Iran is one of the most Shia populated nations in the world, and it has numerously announced patronage for the international Shia community. Attacks in Iran increase fear and tension within the region, making this nation a second point of concern for Shia Muslims. Saudi Arabia continues to be monitored for human rights violations as the conflict in Awamiya continues.

 

Iraq

June stood witness to the death of over 43 Shia civilians. A-bomb detonation in the east of Karbala, in the town of Musayyib, killed  30 and left 35 injured. The detonation was one of four explosions set to go off on that day. Hours after the first bomb, another explosion went off in the city center, wounding 34 others. Sources report that those wounded are in critical condition- the death toll is likely to rise. The third of the bombs was foiled previous to detonation at the shrine of Imam Hussain, a historical landmark central to the Shia faith. Explosions were focused on areas populated with civilians- Marketplace, a religious shrine, city center, and lastly the city’s central bus station.

Despite claims of increased security measures in for the occasion of Ramadan, the city remains alerted. All attacks were claimed by ISIS jihadists. Some sources believe increased attacks on civilian life is in retaliation of lost battlegrounds in other regions of Iraq.

Iran

At 10:30 on June 7, six attackers launched a shooting and bomb attack simultaneously in the Iranian Parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In total, eleven people were killed at the Parliament building and people at the tomb. Forty-six people were wounded.

While ISIS claims responsibility, Iranian authorities view Saudi Arabia suspiciously. The idea of Saudi Arabian support for the terrorist group is a reality on the ground in the Shia-dominated state, and indirect hostilities between the two have been at an all-time high.  

For years, Iran has claimed leadership of the global Shia population. The recent attack on Iranian soil points to an advancement of ISIS powers in the region and furthers claims of anti-Shiism by terror organizations. Shia Rights Watch anticipates further anti-ISIS developments in Iran.  

Pakistan

Late June stood witness to the targeting of Shia Muslims preparing for Eid celebrations. Three separate explosions in Parachinar and Quetta left over 62 dead and 100 other injured. The incidents were claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter of the TeT terror organization. The blasts were coordinated and timed as they occurred on the same day and planned to target the most people. Anti-Shia sentiment is apparent in attacks in Pakistan as they took place in Shia majority locations of the main cities. The incidents stand in support of anti-Shia beliefs that Shia individuals are not Muslims and are seen as unworthy of basic human rights.

Afghanistan

Two explosions occurred in Afghanistan during the month of June in 2017. Both explosions caused multiple casualties and amassed a total of eleven deaths. These attacks took place in the holy month of Ramadan and followed an insurgence of assaults aimed at the Shia minority population within Afghanistan.

The first bomb detonated in Kabul near the Great Mosque of Herat on the 6th of June. The bomb killed seven people and wounded 17. No group has taken credit for the bombing. Although the Taliban denies involvement, Afghan intelligence believes a Pakistani group aligned with the Taliban, called the Haqqani Network.

The second attack occurred on June 15th in Kabul. Four individuals were killed in the blast caused by a suicide bomber outside the al-Zahra mosque in the southwestern area of the city, Dashte Barche. One of the people killed was the leader of the Hazaras in Afghanistan, Hajji Ramazan Hussainzada. The Hazaras are an ethnic group within the Shia population. The attack wounded seven other people. The source of the blast has yet to be confirmed, though the spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry reported that the two attackers tried to enter the mosque before having a shoot-out with the police. One of the attackers made it to the kitchen, where the bomb was detonated. These two attacks continue the series of deadly attacks that have been targeting the minority Shia population in Afghanistan.

Bahrain

Since 2011, Bahraini authorities have been cracking down on protesters that the government fears undermine its position. The protesters are the Shia majority of Bahrain which is often excluded from power. Inspired by the Arab Spring, Bahrainis have taken to the streets. The banning of the Shia political group Al-Wefaq led to further uprisings, and the government responded. This month, Shia Rights Watch has monitored multiple arrests, life sentences, death sentences, and violence institutionalized by the government.

On June 6, Bahrain’s 4th High Criminal Court delivered death sentences to both Sayed Ahmed Fouad al-Abar and Hussein Ali Mahdi after they were arrested during a pro-democracy protest. Two others received life sentences, and eight more received sentences for three to ten years. When appearing in court, the accused seemed physically exhausted which may hint at torture.

On June 15, in a large terrorist trial, 26 Shia Bahrainis were stripped of citizenship, 18 received life sentences, and eight received fifteen years in prison. The group arrested are all members of Diraz Youth, a Shia group based out of the neighborhood of Diraz that protest the monarchy as a community.

Leaders of the Shia community are not exempt from the crackdown. On June 16, Sheikh Hussein al-Sitri was arrested after interrogation even though no charges were announced. On the 19th, Sheikh Salman was sentenced to four years for promoting disobedience and insulting public institutions.

On the 20th, pro-democracy protester Nabeel Al-Samie was found dead after being kidnapped from his farm. Witness reports say that there were signs of extreme torture, and that may be the cause of death. Members of the Ministry of Interior are reported to have been involved, but when investigated, Bahraini authorities stated that the cause of death was by bombing.

Since the demand for democracy and equal rights for the Shia majority, the Bahraini monarchy has stifled any sign of resistance by force. The liberal handing out of life and death sentences proves that the al-Khalif monarchy has little interest in granting equal privileges to all its citizens.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has laid siege to a village called Awamiyah located in the eastern province in the Al-Qatif region. Last month, the Saudi government surrounded the city and attempted to evict the Shia community, stating that the eviction was necessary for renovations. According to residents, cars, fire engines and ambulances are still not being allowed in or out of the area. The Saudi government is using excessive tactics and provoking violence throughout the neighborhood.

On June 7, 14 from the Qatif region were sentenced to death for protesting. They had been detained for two years previously, some in solitary confinement. Lynn Maalouf from Amnesty International stated that the death sentences were based on confessions that were extracted out of coercion. Those sentenced later rescinded their confession.

On June 12, the Saudi military targeted houses of the Shia residents in al-Deira, a neighborhood of Awamiyah. The attack was an uncoordinated lobbying of mortar rockets, adding to the destruction of the community.

On June 14, the carnage continued as Saudi forces deployed snipers onto the rooftops. They commenced firing at civilians, wounding 31, many of whom were women and children. The next day, Saudi troops launched an offensive, to send forces with heavy weapons. Abdullah al-Faraj was shot and died of his wounds. Forty more were wounded.

On June 27, Saudi forces shot Amin Al Hani, head of the Quranic Council of Qatif near a military checkpoint. His vehicle caught fire and incinerated his body.

In the past two months, the Saudi regime has tightened its grip in the Al-Qatif region. The government is bulldozing houses and using conventional weapons to eliminate those trying to preserve their homes. Though a minority, the Shia are still Saudis, and the government has a responsibility to protect its citizens.

Conclusion

A large number of attacks against Shia majority areas took place in the month of June. These attacks occurred in the holy month of Ramadan, which began May 27 and ended on June 24. During this time, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, making the marketplaces and mosques an easy target at night. From the ISIS claimed bombing in Iran to the government led blockade in the Al-Awamiyah region of Saudi Arabia, the Shia population is facing extreme systematic discrimination and persecution.

These incidents demonstrate the continuing persecution of Shia populations around the world. Shia Rights Watch urges further protections for Shia majority areas and implores the countries where these incidences occur to add prevention measures to thwart future human rights infractions against Shia Muslims.




Incidents of Anti-Shiism in May, 2017

May 2017 Monthly Analysis

There were more than 128 deaths and over 50 injuries in the month of May. This month has also witnessed the first incident of direct violence against Shia in the nation of Madagascar. Anti-Shiism remains an urgent issue that needs to be addressed by the international community.

This report will analyze a data of Shia deaths, injuries, and arrests in the month of May. Data was gathered via international news sources as well as on the ground Shia Rights Watch advocates. Authenticity and relevance of news were evaluated via corroborations from Shia Rights Watch advocates on the ground.

In the month of May, Shia rights have been violated in seven nations: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain, and Madagascar. Incidents of vandalism and targeting of Shia have additionally occurred in Sweden, Philippines, and Syria. Violations include arrests,  vandalism, deaths by unnatural means, and injuries.  It is important to note that Shia rights violations listed in this report are a summary of incidents that have reached SRW. Violations are not limited to those in this report. More information can be found on ShiaRightsWatch.org.

Following the detainment of Shaikh Isa Qasim, sit-ins and protest continue in Diraz, Bahrain. Fear of social unrest has government forces limiting town members in resources as well as clashing with peaceful protesters. The ongoing struggle for recognition makes Bahrain a location of concern for Shia Rights Watch.

The Saudi siege on the town of Awamiya remains ongoing, making it a highlighted incident, as well. As Saudi forces maintain their siege on the Eastern province, resources such that of water, food and medical resources deplete, leaving the town in desperate need of international support.

Saudi Arabia

Early May, Saudi forces invaded the town of Awamiya beginning at 3 am. All entrances to the city were closed as forces began shooting at infrastructure. Sources report 400 houses and buildings have been demolished. With claims of renovation, the Saudi forces entered the Mosawara neighborhood with bulldozers, helicopters, and armored tanks. The Eastern province is historically home to Shia Saudi population. The area is rich in heritage centers and cultural landmarks. Despite the UN’s warning against the demolition of historical sites in Awamiya, the Saudi government has made a point to remove the culture of “resistance,” a memory of Shaikh Nimr al- Nimr, a leader in peaceful protest who was executed last year. 

The death toll in Awamiya has risen to five. Over 14 people have been arrested. Those targeted and killed by forces are mainly youth within the community. Among those killed are Javad al- Dagher, a two-year-old along with his father.

On the 25th of May, 14 activists were sentenced to the death penalty due to their participation in the protests. Arrests were followed by psychological and physiological torture. Those prosecuted were denied access to lawyers. Names of defendants can be accessed on the Shia Rights website.

The siege has left the town without water and electricity. Restrictions on travel in to and out of town further limitations. One resident reports, “No one has been able to leave their houses to go to work, school or even get food as people are afraid to move” as a result of the numerous armored tanks and forces that roam the town.   

Iraq

The death toll in Iraq rose with yet another attack in Karrada Iraq. On Memorial Day, the explosion of two bombs in busy areas of Karrada led to the death of 80. Over 50 were wounded in the incidents. The first of two bombs was detonated in an ice cream parlor in the commercial district. The second explosion was in the form of a car bomb on the al-Shahada Bridge, near the public pension’s office during rush hour.

Karrada is not a new target for terrorist organizations. In July of 2016, a car bomb in Karrada left 324 dead and was considered the largest single incident in Iraq in the past decade. The reoccurrence of attacks points to a lack of security by officials. Despite initial promises, officials have not increased security measures in Karrada. The fact that the second explosion was near a government building, one may claim, is a sign of escalation and perhaps taunting of government by ISIS.

In total, 115 people were targeted for their Shia identity. The death toll consists mainly of women and children as attacks were centered in public areas such that of markets, neighborhoods and, in the case of Karrada, ice cream parlors. The setting of these attacks points to a targeting of Shia civilians by extremist groups.   

Syria

Despite increased international attention on the case of unrest in Syria, targeting of Shia Muslims continue in this nation. The extent of anti-Shia sentiment within the Islamic state is publicized in an incident of anti-Shiism in Hama, Syria.

Fifty members of the Shia village were found dismembered in Hama- 24 of those killed were women and children. Coroner reports death by blunt force trauma to the head and dismemberment by blunt objects. Only a small number of bodies were retrieved as the state of the bodies left no room for recognition or recovery. The aggression behind the deaths point to deliberate targeting and hate towards the group.

Shia Rights Watch emphasizes the need for recognition in the state of the Shia minority in Syria.

Sweden

Imam Ali Mosque, the largest Shia mosque in Sweden was left in ruins after an arson attack. The exterior of the mosque was charred, sources report.

This incident of vandalism is not the first anti-Shia targeting in Sweden or Europe. In 2016, a mosque in Malmo, Sweden was vandalized and set on fire. While arrests were made, occurrence of hate-crime points to an increase in anti-shia sentiment in the nation.

Shia mosques are easy targets for anti-Shia propagators as they are open to the larger communities. However, the increase in targeting of Shia Muslims in the West calls for augmented recognition of the minority’s status,

South East Asia: Philippines and Pakistan

The month of May witnessed an increase in incidents of Shia targeting in the nations of Pakistan and the Philipines. Sarfaraz Hussain along with his guard were killed as they patrolled their post in Kurram Pakistan by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants, mid-May. Hussain’s death is yet another targeting of Shia officials in the nation of Pakistan, where a surge in the targeting of Shia members in high tiers of society has been seen in the past few years.

Philipines alone has had four deaths as a result of explosions. In the case of Nasser Abinal, a bomb was delivered to his office by a delivery man, killing his aid and injuring six others. Abinal was a government tax official in the city of Manila. In a separate incident, five Shia were killed and six others were wounded.

While city officials reject extremist involvement, the Philippines have seen an increase in militants pledging alliance with the Islamic State. Incidents of anti-Shiism in this nation point to a spread of anti-Shia sentiment in the region.

Bahrain

Anger at the sentencing of Shaikh Isa Qasim stirs unrest in the town of Diraz. Clashes between Bahraini forces and protestors has led to the death and arrest of tens of civilians.

After Sheikh Qasim’s arrest, demonstrators assembled in sit-ins around the Sheikhs house. Protestors claim allegations against Sheikh Qasim are false and just another way to target and limit the Shia of Bahrain. Since the uprising in 2011, many have been stripped of their citizenship- Sheikh Qasim was revoked of his citizenship in 2016.

In addition to direct violence, Bahrain’s government pressures dissent in many ways. Sources report that internet and phone lines were cut by government force, limiting those services to a few hours in the day. Further, pro-democracy activists living outside Bahrain report their family membered being harassed by officials. In a number of cases, family members were arrested with our due cause and forces to call activists and ask that they refrain from supporting democracy in or out of Bahrain.

Later this month, 17 were sentenced to imprisonment on grounds of involvement in dissent. Five were given life sentences, three were sentenced to a minimum of ten years in prison, while eight were revoked of citizenship. Discrimination against Shia Muslims in Bahrain extend post death as seen in attacks on commemorations held for Diraz martyrs. Sources report many bodies were not given to the deceased’s family and were buried in an unknown location

Fears of escalation exist within the region after increased arms availability to Saudi Arabia and its Gulf associates. The Bahraini First High Administrative court has ordered the liquidation of assets pertaining to the National Democratic Action Society and the dissolution of the party. Actions against political parties in Bahrain are a sign of political and economic regression. 

 

 

 


Madagascar

Armed assailants kidnap Yanish Ismail, a prominent member of the Shia community in Madagascar. The incident took place as Yanish was making his way home from a funeral when he was attacked by masked assailants. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Madagascar is the site of newfound increase in the targeting of Shia Muslims. While anti-Shiism has been limited to education, Ismail’s disappearance is the reason for concern as it may be their watch list in fear of a possible escalation in trends of anti-Shiism.

 

Conclusions

In the month of May, anti-Shiism as a direct effect of international affairs was seen. New arms deal with Saudi Arabia instills fears of an escalation of direct violence in Gulf nations such that of Bahrain. In addition to the availability of weapons, the recent arms deal with the United States has projected a message that crime against humanity by Saudi Arabia will be regarded as insignificant by western democratic nations.

Incidents of anti-Shiism may be expected to rise in the month of Ramadan as ISIS leaders call for war on “unbelievers” on its supporters. A month of communal gathering, Muslims join in the month of Ramadhan, making this month a fertile time for mass targeting.  Shia Rights Watch calls for increased security in Shia-populated areas and asks governments to be aware of the dangers that target their Shia constituents.




Anti-Shiism in the First quarter of 2017

The First quarter of 2017, have witnessed over 296 tragic deaths, more than 875 wounded most of which were in Iraq. Anti-Shiism also continued in the form of detainment in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Anti-Shia efforts furthered in revocation of citizenships of Bahraini pro-democracy advocates and kidnapping of Shia Muslims in Madagascar. The Systematic violence against Shia professionals in Pakistan has left many families without husband and father.



Incidents of Anti-Shiism in September, 2016

Iraq

 

Death count in Iraqi Shia has totaled 372 in the month of September. Baghdad topped the charts with the majority number of Shia killed, with Madain following second. Targeting of Shia Muslims in Madain has been on a particular rise in the year 2016. The majority of deaths has been due to IED’s, suicide bombings and gunfire.

As the number of injured exceeds the casualty count, one can understand that the aim of Shia targeting is not only elimination of this population but also induction of fear. The majority of attacks, 99%, were targeted at not religious centers, but at everyday destinations, such as cafe’s or marketplaces and shopping centers.

Incidents of particular concern have been a chain of explosions in densely populated areas of Baghdad, particularly the neighborhoods of Hurriya, Husainiya, Diyala bridge, and Abu-Dashir . Attacks were claimed by ISIS. ISIS targeting of Shia-populated areas have been ongoing since their reign and little attention has been given to them. Anti-Shiism sentiment adopted by ISIS has held a long history in Wahhabi extremism.

 

Saudi Arabia

This year, September began in unison with the Muslim Hajj season. In light of last years targeted abuse of Shia Muslims in the Hajj processions and in efforts to reduce anti-Shiism, Shia Rights Watch issued a travel advisory warning Shia Muslims of possible tensions and encouraging reports of human rights violation. Total transparency on the part of Saudi Arabian forces and Shia pilgrims was also encouraged.

However, Shia rights abuse continued to persist as a total of 17 Shia Muslims were detained unjustly. In addition, many Shia report having to undergo extra process in entering the Kingdom. Thirteen of the 17 arrested were Bahraini citizens, which raises concern as hajj processions are a religious rituals with the aim of creating unity among the global Muslim community and spreading peace. With their arrests, Saudi forces have disrupted the peace and have used hajj as a means of political control in the region.

Ala Taha, an Iraqi scholar was also arrested in this years Hajj procession. In mid-September, Taha was sentenced to three-month incarceration and a total of 300 flagellations. With the efforts of Shia Rights Watch legal and advocacy team, and the Iraqi Embassy, Taha was released before the end of hajj processions.

Three other Shia scholars Sayed Zainedin, Sayed Jafar Mosavi and Abo-Hamed Yousofi were also detained upon their entrance to the Medina airport.

Anti-Shiism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is systemic as scholars and religious leaders in the nation have encouraged hatred. One example of this is the twitter post of Mufti A’eth al-Gharni, in which he denounced 80 million Shia earlier this month.

 

Pakistan

On the eighth of September, punjabi police forces raised a women’s seminary in Hussainabad, sahiwal, without warrant. Anti-Shiism sentiment has been on the rise in southeast Asia, specifically Pakistan. In the past, anti-Shia actions were carried out by extremist groups such as LeJ or SeS in forms of targeted bombings or shooting of Shia in prominent social classes. The recent rise in unwarranted raids of Shia Islamic seminaries is a sign of escalating anti-Shiism tension in Pakistan. Shia Rights Watch has and continues to warn the rise of such sectarian hatred as little justice has been displayed. Justice must be served and recognition of wrong doing must be announced by responsible parties in order to reduce sectarian conflicts in not only Pakistan, but also the region.

 

Bahrain

Conditions in Bahrain continue to be striving for Shia citizens. Abbas Abdul-Nabi, an activist has been placed in solitary confinement. Abdul-nabi has been critically ill as result of police brutality on peaceful protest. Abdul-Nabi has been denied medical attention.

If not detained, numerous activist have been denied leaving the nation, one such being Sharaf al-Mousawi. Ahmed Reda, a journalist, has also been restricted from traveling outside of Bahrain- no reasons have been announced for said restrictions.

Upon the return of Hajj, many Bahraini travelers have had their passports withheld.

 

Mauritania

 

A prominent Mufti in Mauritania has called for action against the growth of the Shia religion in this country. This outright denouncement of Shia community is a display of an expansion of anti-Shiism in this country, and more importantly in the region. Shia Rights Watch strongly condemns any isolation of minority communities in Mauritania and urges peaceful action against hatred.




Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

This monthly report will analyze the data compiled on Shia deaths, injuries, and arrests that occurred between August 1st and 31st, 2016. This month there were 334 deaths, and 67 wounded in the Shia community. Also 47 to 50 cases of arrest were reported.  Anti-Shia violations were reported in 9 countries during this month, however the reporters are aware that violations are not limited to what is being reported here.

As usual Iraqi Shia face the highest number of casualty and fatality due to bombing and explosions.

Bahrain has highest number of arrest as 31 Shia, including 16 clerics, were arrested.

In August, Shia Muslims were targeted in 9 countries; Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, Madagascar, Kuwait, Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

The data for this report was gathered from a variety of different sources. The most well-known incidents of anti-Shiism were retrieved from stories that are reported to Shia Rights Watch by eyewitnesses, each incident is thoroughly evaluated for both authenticity and relevance. For an incident to be included in this report it has to show clear intent to target Shia Muslims and their communities.

Increasing pressure to Shia clerics in different countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan worries human right activists as they are the leaders of their communities.

Shia Rights Watch_Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

Afghanistan

Three Shia killed and One arrested in Afghanistan during August. Beside historically high violation toward Hazarah community, violation to Shia clerics has increased in Afghanistan. A Shia cleric, Yonus Alawi, was shot to death while returning from daily prayer at local mosque in Herat, And according to local Afghan media sources Taliban beheaded a Hazara, Khair Mohammad, student of Faryab College on August 21, 2016. He was travelling by bus when Taliban stopped the bus near Shirin Tagab, and after identifying him as Shia, dragged him out and beheaded him on spot.

In addition, Sheikh Ghorban Gholampour was arrested by Afghan authorities on August 22nd. No detail is available on his case yet.

A mass arrest happened on August 31st, as authorities arrested 12 to 15 activists and journalist from Hazara community during a protest about a major power transmission line during a visit to the area by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Witnesses report forces assaulted reports and arbitrarily detained them for 24 hours.

Bahrain

Systematic oppression of the Bahraini Shia continues on in the month of August but mostly in a form of arrest and pressure to Shia clerics. 30 Shia, including 16 Shia clerics, were arrested, one center attacked and 47 clerics summoned during this month.

On August 2nd, a Bahraini court postponed activist Nabeel Rajab’s trial until the 5th of September and denied his request for bail. Rajab’s defense team had requested his release over concerns about his health, but the court denied the petition.

On August 4th, a Bahraini court arrested and sentenced 2 Shia clerics to 15 days for participating in peaceful assembly in the neighborhood of Addar.

Bahraini police have arrested four Shia clerics. Sheikh Issa Momen, the Friday prayers leader of Khayf Mosque in the village of Dair, east of the capital Manama, was taken into custody on Saturday.  According to the report, police forces also detained Sheikh Ali al-Hamli, Seyyed Mohsen Qarifi and Sheikh Fazil Zaki in eastern Manama for questioning.

On August 8th, 12 people have been detained and charged with unlawful assembly over demonstrations near the home of a Shia cleric. They were arrested in Diraz in a sit-in in support of Sheikh Isa Qassim, who lost his citizenship in June.

On August 14th, Hani Basira was detained after being summoned for interrogation as the result of his participation in campaign that advocates for Shia clerics.

On August 15 Bahrain court charged Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman and activist and medic Dr. Taha Al-Derazi with illegal gathering accusation. Al-Salman has been released on bail, while Al-Derazi is remanded in custody. Numbers of other activists were arrested following the sit-in of August 14th, however no detailed information is available on their cases.

In another violation, Ra’as Roman, a Shia center was attacked and the management access to the center was limited  since the locks on the door was changed.

  • Sayed Majeed Al-Mashaal
  • Sheikh Mohammad Jawad Al-Shahabi
  •  Sheikh Mounir Al-Maatouk
  • Sheikh Ali Hmaidan
  •  Sheikh Ali Al-Jufairi
  •  Sheikh Imad Al-Shaala
  • Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Khidran
  • Sheikh Hussein Al-Mahrous
  • Sayed Yassine Al-Mosawi

Increased pressure of Shia clerics in Bahrain is threatening the leadership among Bahraini Shia. SRW believe such leaders could be helpful resources to bring peace back to Bahrain only if this kingdom stops violating their rights.

Shia Rights Watch_Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016_1

Iraq

On average 8 Shia were killed in Iraq as this country continues to have highest number of casualty rate among all countries with Shia rights violation.  Explosion and gunfire are mostly used methods of killing Shia civilians.

Iraq suffered 44 attacks in different cities this month alone. Most of the attacks occurred in Baghdad. Besides Baghdad, Mahmudiyah, Yousefye, Karbala, and Madaen were also highly targeted. 251 Shia were killed as the result of explosions and another 12 wounded. As many as 19 bodies also found mainly in Baghdad worrying Shia community even more.

The deadliest suicide bombing killed 23 in Ain al- Tamur, a town 40 kilometers west of the city of Karbala on August 30th. According to sources four suicide bombers had planned to explode their vest in different areas of the city; however officials arrested three of them after one bomb exploded.

Also, thousands of bodies found in more than 72 mass graves throughout Iraq on August 31st. Graves are located in different areas such as isolated mountains. Human rights activists believe ISIS is only group capable of such crime and victims belong to minority groups such as Shia Muslims. In addition to violation toward Iraqi Shia in their country, they are subject to violation elsewhere too. Shia Iraqi pilgrims were subject to verbal abuse, humiliation and unnecessary search in Medina airport, Saudi Arabia.  Saudi authorities also arrested number of group counselors because they found The Rules of The Pilgrimage book in their belongings. In some cases their luggage were ripped to be searched for Shia prayer books.

Saudi Arabia

Reportedly 9 Shia minors that are threatened currently on death row. They are:

  • Ali al-Nimir
  • Abdullah alZaher
  • Dawood al-Marhoon
  • Hussein Ali alBata
  • Saeed Mohammed alSkafi
  • Salman Amin al-Koraysh
  • Mojtaba alSuwaiket
  • Abdullah Salman Al Surih
  • Hassan Abdul Wahab Al Jazer

On August 31st, two Shia clerics were arrested in Qatif, Saudi Arabia. Mohammad Zain Alhdon and Jaafar Alawi were arrested, no explanation is given yet.

Shia rights violation is expected to increase in Saudi Arabia during Hajj season. In number of cases Saudi Shia were not give permission to participate in Hajj pilgrimage as Saudi authorities denies and limits their right to religion.

Shia Rights Watch_Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

Pakistan

79 Pakistani Shia killed and 55 wounded in 4 separate attacks to Shia community in Pakistan.

On August 1st, a targeted attack killed Ghulam Nabi and Mohammad Nabi, two Hazara community members. No group or individual has claimed responsibility as of now.

August 4th, another attack to a bus, in Balochistan, carrying Shia pilgrims to Iran wounded 5 people.

The deadliest attack was on August 8th, as 76 people have been killed and over 50 others injured when a bomb exploded near Civil Hospital in Quetta on Monday. The blast, followed by firing was heard after president of Balochistan Bar Association Advocate Bilal Anwar Kasi was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Quetta

August 13th, Pakistani Shia residence of Dera Ismail Khan reported receiving a threat letter signed by ISIS demanding them to convert to Islam or be killed.

August 22nd, Targeted shooting in Pakistan claimed another Shia life as a 32 year old man was shot and killed on August 22nd.

Egypt

According to number of news outlets, The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) issued a report on July 21 showing that there were 70 incidents of assault against Egyptian Shia during the period from January 2011 to May 2016. However no detailed report is available to activists. SRW contacted EIPR to obtain a copy of the report but received no response yet. Activists believe the agency is not willing to publish the report due to increased anti-Shia activities in Egypt and elsewhere. It is believed such report will endanger Shia population and the agency even more.

Kuwait

Kuwait court has sentenced a Shia Muslim lawmaker, Dashti, to 14 and half years in prison for criticizing the ruling families in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. He strongly criticized the Bahraini regime’s repression of the opposition and Saudi Arabia’s deployment of troops in 2011 to Bahrain to assist the Al Khalifah regime in its crackdown on the peaceful anti-regime protests.

In May 2015, the Dashti called for the foreign minister to be questioned over Kuwait’s involvement in the Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, which he said violated the constitution.

Madagascar

Madagascar has reported its first Shia killing as 19 year old was killed on August 9th.  No group has claimed responsibility yet.  Investigations are still underway.

Another Shia man, Eric Daya, was kidnapped on August 30th. There is no update on his case.

Shia community has lost members due to kidnapping previously. Oun Alac, another Shia man, was kidnapped last year and war never found. His family believe he is dead.

Malaysia

Anti-Shia cleric and a member of Kedah Deputy Mufti Sheikh Marwazi Dziyauddin suggested based on the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) 2012 (Sosma) law must be improved in order to stop spread of Shia teachings in the country. “Generally, we know even the police could not take action against individuals involved in the Shia teaching due to the legal constraints, therefore it is more appropriate that Sosma be amended to enable the authorities to do so” he stated in the National Security Dialogue Session at the Home Ministry Hall in Alor Setar. Anti-Shia activities have increased dramatically in Malaysia although freedom of religion is observed for all other minorities in this country.

Shia Rights Watch_Trend of Violations against Shia Muslims in 2016

Conclusion

As many as 334 Shia killed, 67 wounded and, 47 to 50 arrested and 47 summoned during the month of August in 9 different countries. Anti-Shia violations also included attack to Shia centers, threat to be killed and call for more pressure on Shia communities.

Anti Shi’ism is on the rise in many countries. Shia Rights Watch condemns these acts of violence and urges the international community to put pressure on these governments who are violating these human rights. We must ensure that minorities are able to live a safe, fair, and just life within the communities they live all over the world.
*Note:

Shia Rights Watch has issued a Hajj 2016 Advisory to help Shia pilgrimage during their visit to Saudi Arabia as Shia rights violation increases during Hajj every year.




Incidents of Anti-Shiism in July, 2016

Incidents of Anti-Shi’ism in July 2016

Introduction:

Shia Muslims experienced some of the worst attacks in the month of July than in all of 2016 so far. 775 Shia lost their lives and 616 were injured in the month of July alone. That averages to about 25 killed and 20 wounded everyday. Most of these senseless deaths can be attributed to the increased violence of the Islamic State. As they lose ground, IS is becoming steadily more violent, both within the Middle East and abroad. However, many others blame the governments and governmental leaders for allowing the violence to escalate to such a level that civilians cannot even go to the store anymore without the fear of being killed. Shia Rights Watch condemns the hatred that fuels these senseless acts of violence and unnecessary killings, and urges the international community to come together to stop the ever-growing hatred that is threatening our global way of life.

Shia Rights Watch_July Antishiism

Afghanistan

Afghanistan bared witness to one major incident of anti-Shi’ism on the 24th of July.  A joint suicide bombing against peaceful Shia Hazara protesters resulted in a reported 80 killed and 260 wounded. The Shia Hazara are constantly under threat of anti-Shia extremism. ISIS claimed responsibility for this attack. This has been the worst attack in Kabul for months in terms of casualties.

Bahrain

Systematic oppression of the Bahraini Shia continues on in the month of July. A total of 158  were arrested, and a total of 19 were issued travel bans, with a variety of anti-shi’ism incidents, and one death.  On June 5th, Manama the Bahraini High Criminal Court sentenced 11 defendants to 7 years in prison and 5 others to 3, over charges of assembling in Sitra. Two days later reports from Diraz revealed government officials disabled internet and cellular connections while also surrounding the town with checkpoints to stop people from leaving or entering the city. On July 14h, inside reports revealed the Bahraini government has also issued travel bans  to a cohort of scholars. This follows travel bans issued one month ago to human rights activists attempting to fly to Geneva for a UNHRC assembly.  Reports claim that at least 19 people including doctors, lawyers, academics, journalists have been issued the travel ban.

Additionally, Shia clerics and Imams have postponed their prayers to end the holy month of ramadan in honor of Sheikh Isa Qassim, who was arrested and is awaiting trial. Later in the month at least three shia clerics and one poet were arrested for peaceful demonstration. On July 25th Bahraini authorities referred 138 people to be later tried for “spying for a foreign country”, these are in addition to the continuous arrests under the recent crackdown. Bahraini government faulty accuses protesters of spying for a foreign country in order to cover up its human rights violations.

The last friday of july showed injustice, as leading cleric Sheikh Sankour, was banned from leading friday prayer for a second time.  An additional detainee of Bahrain died while imprisoned on July 31st after being taken to the Salmaniya Medical Complex; Bahrain has faced several accusations of torturing its prisoners. Lastly, the previously arrested top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim faced trial July 27th. The verdict accused him of money laundering and funneling money.  Protests have spurred in Diraz after his arrest only to be met with greater crackdowns.

Shia Rights Watch_July Antishiism

Iraq

Iraq suffered 39 attacks in 15 different cities this month alone. 24 of those attacks, 62%,  occurred in Baghdad. Besides Baghdad, Karrada, Balad and Mosul were also highly targeted. 60% of victims were killed by suicide bombers, 24% by IEDs or gunfire, and 16% by execution.

On July 2nd, Baghdad experienced the deadliest attack in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. ISIS claimed responsibility for the car bomb that left 297 civilians dead and 175 wounded, but some citizens blame the Iraqi government for not acting sooner to stop the violence. A minivan packed with explosives was detonated is a busy shopping center filled with Shia preparing for the Eid-al-Fitr celebration. Days later, rescue workers were still trying to pull bodies from the rubble; some of whom had to be identified by DNA testing. As the bomb was detonated near a 3 story shopping center filled with stores and restaurants, many of the victims were children. ISIS stated that the suicide bomber was targeting Shia, although Iraqis of various backgrounds, such as Christians, were killed. Many citizens blame the Iraqi government for failing to protect its citizens from this horrific atrocity.

The violence continued on July 7th, when ISIS suicide bombers targeted a Shia shrine in Balad, killing 40 and injuring 74. Two men detonated their suicide vests near the shrine, targeting worshipers, and a third man was killed by security personnel before he could detonate his vest. Then, on July 12th, another car bomb killed 25 and injured dozens at a crowded market in Baghdad. The vegetable market, located in the area of Rashidiyah, was full of Shia shopping during rush hour.

Pakistan

In July, Pakistan saw 2 major incidents of anti-Shi’ism, both resulting in death.  The first incident occurred on July 6th, when Shia advocate Syed Shahid Shirazi was shot and killed by pro-ISIS takfiri.  Armed takfiri terrorists of Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ), aka Sipah-e-Sahaba shot the advocate on Eid day near the University Wensam College at Multan Road in Dera Ismail Khan.  The second incident occurred 3 days later on July 9th in Islamabad. Three armed men entered the house of Sagheer Ahmed Saifi, a Shia cleric. At 10:30pm, the gunmen opened fire, killing his wife Sobia Saifi and injuring the cleric.

Saudi Arabia

Anti Shia sentiment has continued during the month of July in Saudi Arabia. A suicide bomb was detonated outside a Shia Mosque on July 4th in the town of Qatif.  Luckily no one in or around the Mosque was injured, though some structural damage to the Mosque occurred. The bomb went off just as people were leaving the Mosque to break their fast.Saudi authorities also arrested Sheikh Mohammad Hassan al-Habib, a prominent cleric in the Safavi region in Qatif on July 12th. Three companions traveling with Habib were also arrested.  All were taken in for questioning.  Habib is known for anti-regime protests and for his vocal criticism of the government and its policies toward the Shias. As the kingdom continues to impose more restrictions on religious activities of people in its oil-rich east, tens of Shia community members fell victim to home raids, arrests, and beatings while protesting peacefully on July 25th in Qatif.

Kuwait

Abdulhameed Dashti, a Kuwaiti lawmaker was sentenced to 14 years and 6 months for remarks he made about fellow gulf states Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.  He has been accused of endangering the diplomatic ties with the two countries.  Dashti has been living abroad for some months in Britain.  The MP has been a strong supporter of the Shia population and is known for his criticism of the royal families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.  Dashti has no plans of returning to the oil rich country.

Nigeria

The official inquiry came out 28 July accused Sheikh Ibraheem El Zakzaky of being responsible for the clash that occurred between the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The attack to Shia community in December 2015 resulted in killing of more than thousand people and disappearance of  hundreds.  It is worthy to note that Shia community were not armed, the governmental officials attacked their gathering without any notice, and the attack lasted 48 hours. A peaceful Shia leader, El Zakzaky was arrested and is still in prison and in need of medical attention.

Shia Rights Watch_July Antishiism

Conclusion

July has proven to be the most deadly month thus far in 2016 for the Shia population.  In just this month alone, 737 people have been killed and  355 wounded in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  Scores of Shia minorities have fallen victim to anti-Shia acts such as false imprisonment, beatings, travel bans, arrests, and Mosque defamation.  Most acts of anti-Shi’ism occurred in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  Anti Shi’ism is on the rise in many countries.  Shia Rights Watch condemns these acts of violence and urges the international community to put pressure on these governments who are violating these human rights.  We must ensure that minorities are able to live a safe, fair, and just life within the communities they live all over the world.




Incidents of Anti-Shiism in June, 2016

 

In the month of June, over 278 Shia lives were lost as a result of Shia targeted killings in countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria.  Revocation of citizenship and detainment on basis of pro-democracy efforts not only has been continued, but also increased in Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.

In the month of June, attacks in the nations of Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Nigeria have resulted in the death count of 277, wounded count of 102 and arrest count of 41.

Shia-Rights-Watch_June-2016

 

Bahrain

Arrests in Bahrain top the charts. In comparison the month of May, the number of arrests have doubled. Further, the number of citizenship revocations have increased extensively.

The month of June coincided with the Muslim Holy month of Ramadhan. However, there was no sign of peace in Bahrain. In fact, tensions rose as Bahraini officials aimed to control affairs of Shia communities.

Despite his pardoning, Nabeel Rajab was detained. Sources state Rajabs deteriorating health as a result of unethical conditions under which he is held in.

On the 19th of June, the al- Khalifa regime announced a statement to religious authorities in the country that khoms, a Shia religious taxation, must be announced to the government. Shia leaders and scholars have strongly denounced said statement by the government and condemned the official’s involvement with the group’s religious affairs. Khoms consists of 20% of Shia individuals savings and is donated to leading Shia scholars to be used for public use (ie. reduce poverty, increase education availability, etc).

A day later, Bahraini officials renounced the citizenship of Shaikh Isa Qasem, a prominent Shia leader and scholar. Following Qasems arrest, hundreds gathered in the streets of Diraz, Qasem’s home town, and protested this injustice.

The congregation of Shia mosque Imams ceased Friday prayers at their mosques, citing a lack of safety and security for members of their service.

In order to quell pro-democracy efforts, Bahraini officials have increased their pressure on the Shia Muslim community by arrested and revoking citizenship of senior members of this community.  Which has failed in its efforts, and has increased tension among masses.

Iraq

Over 84% of Shia casualties were results of targeted attacks occurring in Iraq- the majority in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. As a result of regional turmoil, and Iraq’s lack of strong central government authority, there is little security.

The largest and most alarming attack occurred on June 7th, on which a car bomb detonated five kilometers away from the two holy shrines central to the city of Karbala, 80 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. Eight people were killed and 24 others were wounded. While not the largest in magnitude, this attack caused unparalleled fear as the two shrines are held central to the Shia faith.

Pakistan

As anti-Shia sentiment continues to thrive in Pakistan, four are killed and 36 others are left wounded. The largest of attacks occurred in Quetta by an explosive device left on a bicycle in the Almo Chowk marketplace. The explosion caused extensive damage to nearby stores and homes. This bomb was strategically placed in the marketplace as it targeted civilians who would be preparing for eid al-fitr festivities as the month of Ramadhan comes to an end.

It must be mentioned that one other bomb was found before its detonation in a separate event. In comparison to previous months, attacks targeting Shia population of Pakistan continues steadily with little signs of reduction.

Saudi Arabia

Structural violence in Saudi Arabia becomes direct as a Shia individual lost his life as a result of raids in the Eastern province. The Eastern Province is home to the largest Shia density in Saudi Arabia.

Abdul-Rahim al-Faraj was shot by Saudi forces raided his home in late June. The al-Faraj family have been prominent pro-democracy activists- Abdul-Rahim was the fifth of his extended family to be killed by forces since the initiation of the Arab Spring in 2011.

In addition, Shiakh Jafar Sweileh, a prominent cleric in Qatif was arrested and detained for his pro-freedom of speech and religion writings.

Systemic violence against Shia Muslims have become out right. For decades, Shia Muslims have been treated as second class citizens and have been denied their rights to fair education and job opportunities. Any form of dissent has been met with direct violence.

Syria

Since April 2016, Shia death in Syria have increased by at least 25%. The environment of entropy in this nation as a result of revolution the war against ISIS has led to the death of millions of civilians. This environment of chaos has allowed for less accountability for crimes against religious minority, and thus has led to an increase in targeted killing of populations such that of the Shia minority.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the town of Zainabiya, located outside of Damascus has been the target of attack as it is the central- most Shia dense area of Syria. Further, this location is the destination of many religious pilgrims as they visit the shrine of Sayida Zainab, Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter.

June’s largest casualty incidents was on the 11th, when two suicide bombers and one car bomber detonated their explosives in a busy street in Zainabiya. This incident lead to the death of 20 and the wounding of over 24 others.

Shia Rights Watch_ June 2016

Nigeria

Nigeria is home to one of the largest and fastest growing Shia populations in the African region of the world. Along with expansion, however, has been an increase in targeting of this religious minority. Anti-Shia sentiment fueled by the Wahhabist ideology has spread throughout the nation and its officials.

In 2015, Shaikh Zakzaky was ruthlessly detained and hundreds of his followers were killed and disposed of in a shallow unmarked grave. Since then, the targeting of Shia pockets in Nigeria has continued and in some cases has escalated. While extremist groups do exist, many of the acts against Shia have been carried out by government forces.

Conclusion

Over six months into the year 2016, Shia targeting does not seem to slow down. All over the world, Shia Muslims are sought out, and targeted on the basis of their religious belief systems. Shia Rights Watch (SRW) condemns any and all attacks against Shia Muslims as well as any acts against humanity.

Shia Rights Watch asks all governments to promote religious education and tolerance. This NGO also urges them to take necessary steps in order to prevent future Shia rights violations.




Incidents of Anti-Shiism in May, 2016

The month of May was witness to over 562 tragic deaths, most of which were in Iraq. Anti-Shiism also continued in the form of detainment in the Kingdom of Bahrain and Nigeria. Anti-Shia efforts were furthered in revocation of citizenships of Bahraini pro-democracy advocates and demolition of seminaries in Azerbaijan.

Where have Shia been targeted?

In May, Shia Muslims were targeted in Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Bahrain, and Nigeria. A total of 562 deaths, 544 injuries, and 15 arrests have been reported.

Shia RIghts Watch_Shia Killed in May

 

Iraq

Iraq, continues to top the charts in anti- Shia targetings by terror organizations such as ISIS. The death count in Iraq is 556 of the total 562 Shia killed, and 544 injuries were also reported. The major cause of the aforementioned statistics are gunfire and improvised explosive device (IED) detonation in Shia dense areas of Baghdad. The largest attack in the month of May was on the 17th, where a series of three explosions, rocked the neighborhood of Shaab, Dora and Sadr City of Baghdad. Initially, an explosion occurred in an open market in Shaab, then a suicide bomber targeted in the same location targeting those who had come to aid victims of the first attack. Next, an explosive device detonation occurred in a market located in the city of Dora. Finally, a car bomb was set off in Sadr City. The numerous attacks on the 17th of May resulted in the death of 92 and injury of over 100 civilians.

The second largest attack occurred on May 11 in Sadr City where a bomb located on a pickup truck filled with fruits and vegetables was detonated leading to the death of 70, including a bride preparing for her wedding in a local bridal salon; 100 others were injured on that day. Both the attacks were taken on by ISIS terror organization.

The month of May ended with yet another attack by which over 20 lives were lost and 50 were reported injured as a result of three detonated car bombs and suicide bombs Shia populated areas of Sadr City and Shaab district.

Azerbaijan

Efforts to reduce public display of Shia presence in Azerbaijan continued in the month of May as yet another seminary was demolished in the city of Nadaran. On afternoon of May 2nd, Azeri government forces destroyed Imam Zaman Seminary (located near Rahimah Khatoon Shrine) claiming to have the goal of “expanding the street”. This violence was denounced by local and international activist as this seminary is located in an alley end and its demolition cannot allow for actual street expansion.

Shia RIghts Watch_Shia Killed in Iraq_May

Nigeria

Anti-shiism efforts were furthered in Kundana State, Nigeria when 91 Shia individuals were sentenced to death by Kunduna High Court officials. Sources report that an arraignment date has been announced in the first of June of 2016.

Nigeria is home to one of the largest and fastest growing Shia densities in the African region. Yet, anti-Shia sentiment fueled by wahhabi education has lead to the targeting of this group.

There has yet to be any development on the detainment of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Zakzaky.

Pakistan

Anti-Shia sentiment continues as two separate incidents occurred targeting Shia individuals in prominent cities in Pakistan, leading to the death of five.

On the seventh of May, Syed Khurram Zaki, editor of the Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP), a political analysis website was targeted by an armed gunman outside of a tea shop in Karachi.  Zaki was 40 years old and was widely known for his public denouncement of extremism.

A second attack occurred on the 12th of May in Khurram Valley resulting in the death of four by the Pakistani Frontier Constabulary. This too was a shooting targeting peaceful protesters asking for removal of a ban (by government) on speakers invited for a local birth celebration of the Shia third Imam.

Justice has yet to be granted for the five pakistani victims killed in the month of May.

Shia Rights Watch_Cities with Major death_May.2016

Bahrain

Arrests in the month of May totaled 17 as pro-democracy efforts were furthered by the Kingdom of Bahrain. On May 11, Ebrahim Karimi was revoked Bahraini citizenship, sentenced to 25 months detainment and fined 2100 Bahraini dinar (5570 USD) for “allegedly insulting Salman and Saudi Arabia”. Hassan Alawi Shahrakani, a poet was also arrested for his involvement in pro-democracy efforts. Both of these individuals have been targeted numerous times before by government officials.

On May 24, Sheikh Mohammad al-Mansi was sentenced to a year in jail after detainment of over one month. Days later, 14 other pro-democracy activists were arrested and sentenced 3 – 15 years in jail. On the 30th, 10 others were detained and sentenced to imprisonment for life while 12 others were stripped of their citizenship. Two defendants were charged with 200.000 Dinars (530,448 USD) and all others were fined 10,983 Dinars (29,129 USD).

In addition, the sentence for Sheikh Ali Salman was increased from four to nine years. Sheikh Salman was arrested in late 2015 on charges for allegedly “disturbing the peace and explicit incitement toward disobeying the law”.

Pro-democracy efforts continue to be impeded by government forces, mainly with imprisonment of prominent activists and revocation of citizenship.

Conclusion

The ever prominent Shia rights violations point to an existing and escalating anti-shia narrative in numerous countries around the world. Efforts to effectively eradicate anti-Shia sentiment has yet to be taken by any individual nations. Shia Rights Watch calls for further development of rights based recognition of Shia Muslims all over the world.