Rising Tide

The Shia Rights Watch report entitled “Rising Tide” is 18 pages, detailing incidents of violence and intimidation against Pakistani Shia Muslims between 2012 and 2016.The report gives a detailed account of how this already oppressed group has been marginalized further in recent years through systematic violence and lack of protection. At least 914 attacks and 4,598 killing or wounding is reported. The report is based on interviews, site visits, articles, NGO reports, and other human rights reports. articles, NGO reports, and other human rights reports.

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Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Islāmī Jumhūriya-ē Pākistān, is a country in South Asia. With a population exceeding 180 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world. Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of four provinces and four federal territories. Pakistan is a federation of four provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, as well as the Islamabad Capital Territory and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the northwest, which include the Frontier Regions. The government of Pakistan exercises de facto jurisdiction over the western parts of the disputed Kashmir region, organized into the separate political entities Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas). The Gilgit–Baltistan Empowerment and Self- Governance Order of 2009 assigned a province- like status to the latter, giving it self-government.

The state religion in Pakistan is Islam, which is practiced by about 95-98% of the 180 million people of the nation. The remaining 2-5% practice Christianity, Hinduism, and other religions. Muslims are divided into two major sects: the majority of them practice Sunni Islam, while the Shias are a minority who make up an estimated 5-20%.

Pakistan is suffering a major crisis, in which terrorist groups are continuously committing mass events of violence against Pakistani Shia Muslims.

Terrorist organizations mostly target Shia scholars, activists or those who have senior positions. This report aims to highlight some of the attacks and killings in the country and emphasize the urgent need for change in the Pakistan. Shia Rights Watch (SRW) urges the government of Pakistan should follow up on public denunciations of sectarian killings by securing Shia areas, controlling gun possession, and ordering the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leadership of the terrorist groups, their members, and affiliates responsible for planning systematic violence.

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Local Pakistani activists have recorded 914 attacks in different locations of Shia-populated areas of Pakistan between 2012 and 2016. Such attacks resulted in the death of at least 2,040 and injury of 2,558 Shia Muslims. The reporters were unable to follow up on the health status of the injured victims due to lack of resources and security limitations. There is also no report on damages due to explosions and targeted killings, but SRW expects significant damage to properties as a result of bombings and attacks. In other words, at least 4,598 people have been reported killed or wounded. Statistics suggest on average, three Shia are either killed or wounded daily due to Shia rights violations in Pakistan alone. In most cases of Pakistan attacks, those three happen to be Shia professionals.

It is important to highlight, this report only included cases that could be fact checked. SRW believes there are more cases that are not reported due to insecurities of Shia population.

Change in Social Structure

Explosions and bombings, in particular, are usually analyzed based on their casualty impacts. However, SRW believes more in-depth and holistic approaches are needed in order to be fair to victims of human rights violations. Explosions not only kill and wound, but they also damage homes, destroy businesses and shops, and destruct inventories, resulting in significant damages, affecting the economic structure of the society.  In addition to economic effects, such incidents create a sense of insecurity. Insecurity results in a lack of motivation to take economic risks, desire for growth, fear of social involvements and even isolation.

SRW is concerned about Pakistani Shia community as they face so much discrimination which results in not only loss of life, but social distractions. As this report, and most other reports on Pakistani Shia highlight, many attacks in Pakistan are in the form of targeted killings. The victims of targeted killings are professionals: doctors, professors, businessmen, and influential lawyers. Targeting the social and political elite allows terror organizations to instill fear into society. The lack of prosecution in Shia deaths empowers terror groups and reinforces their ability to isolate groups within the larger society.

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Lasting Effects

Anti-Shiism in Pakistan is estimated to change social dynamics. Data reports the majority of Shia killed are male heads of families whose death leave children without fathers and households without income. SRW estimates a rise in populations in need of welfare in the near future as a result of anti-Shiism. Further, SRW hypothesizes a rise in women and children in the workforce to make up for the lack of income. Children will begin working at a younger age and the nation will have a reduction in education rates.

Terror Organizations

The South Asian Terrorism Portal reports 12 different terror groups operating in Pakistan. The largest and most influential of the organizations are Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e- Sahaba, and Tehreek-e- Taliban. United States’ Bureau of Counterterrorism identified these three groups as foreign terrorist organization.

Tekree-e-Taliban, based in Western Pakistan, aims to establish an “Islamic Emirate.” Their specialties include IEDs, suicide attacks, mass casualty bombings, mortars, rockets, assassinations, kidnappings, executions, raids, assaults, and internet operations. Like Jundullah, Tehreek-e-Taliban is a subset of the Afghan Taliban and derives much of its resources from the Taliban.

Shia Rights Watch_Rising Tide


Lashkare Jhangvi (LeJ) is one of the more active terrorist organizations in Pakistan. They’re into IEDs, assassinations, suicide attacks, mortars, grenades, rockets, and raids. LeJ’s ability to collaborate with larger radical organizations makes it highly influential. In an interview with Reuters, Ali bin Sufyan, LeJ al- Alami spokesperson said, “Wherever there are attacks taking place [in Pakistan] Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami is cooperating with [ISIS] either directly or indirectly.” Significant funding flows from al-Qaeda and Arab states. Saudi Arabian money has been traced to organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.

LeJ has joined much of its forces with IS-Khurasan, marginalizing not only Shias but their empaths. In the recent years, LeJ has refocused its demographics, now targeting youth in the early twenties with varying backgrounds but with the same supremacist ideology. Sources report recruitment is targeted to youth with technological fluency. LeJ recruits will frequently use social media to post their most recent kills, which adds to their marketing to gain funds from international extremist organizations.

Terror organizations have propaganda in the form magazines and websites that grant them excellent access to international funds. They roam free enough to openly issue death threats to Shias in local newspapers, describing them as “deserving of death.”

Violation Types

This report examines attacks in the form of bombs, murders, suicide bombings and targeted killings. The majority of attacks on Shia were in the form of targeted killings, specifically, drive- by shootings. In the regions of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Punjab, Shia individuals were identified, localized and targeted at their businesses or on-route. Specifically, the Shia targeted were individuals significant to their society. Educated doctors, lawyers, and more importantly, government officials were isolated and killed. Frequently targeted shootings that have little prosecution point to a structural and social violence against Shia Muslims.

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The majority of attacks occurred in the daytime which points to a lack of fear from authorities and the surrounding community. Violators do not think they will be prosecuted for their ill actions because there is a social consensus that the Shia are second- class members of their community because of their belief systems.  The region of FATA remains unique in the data as 80% of attacks occurred in the form of a bomb.

Major Regions 

The aforementioned regions are areas of increased violence against Shia Muslims in descending order. It is important to note these regions have been isolated per acquired SRW data. Although each region has its own uniqueness in culture, similar anti- Shiism trends can be seen.

Anti-Shiism is made possible by regional instability. Lack of border security makes it easy for insurgents from other nations to flow into Pakistan and cause civil unrest. With them, insurgents bring education and anti- Shia propaganda that infiltrates Pakistani grassroots. That, in addition to money made by opioid and counterfeit trafficking, makes terrorism flourish.


In recent years, the region of Sindh has been home to the most Shia deaths. Locally known as Mehran, Sindh is located in Southern Pakistan and is centralizes on Karachi. Once home to Muhajirs, migrants from neighboring nations, Sindh has developed a unique religious culture of its own, as a melting pot of the nation’s largest Hindu population. This Hindu-Islamic mix has given rise to the Sufi religion, which shares aspects of each of the two religions.

From 2012 to 2016, Sindh has been home to over 58% of incidents of anti-Shiism. Of the 530 deaths, 481 of the deaths were the result of targeted killings. Despite the region’s diversity in population, Shia Muslims are targeted. The nature of deaths points to a system of identification of Shia Muslims and their businesses/homes in a community. Further, the freedom for an individual to shoot another individual in a crowded area without fear of recognition and prosecution points to a social acceptance of anti-Shiism.


BaluchistanShia Rights Watch_Rising Tide

In addition to sharing a border, Sindh and Baluchistan share high rates of Shia targeting. Baluchistan in the home to the Hazara population of Pakistan. Originally, the Hazara’s fled Afghanistan’s persecution and sought refuge in Quetta, Baluchistan’s capital city. Political unrest and lack of sufficient government action leave room for extremist groups to thrive.

Historically, the Hazara’s have been in support of the federal government and have a positive track record in maintaining loyalty to the nation. That, in addition to the region’s immense natural resource reservoirs, makes Baluchistan a location of significance. Located on the border of Afghanistan and Iran, Baluchistan is a key strategic region.

Mass targeting of the Shia population in Baluchistan has sparked a new wave of protests. However, despite the government’s initial promises to address anti-Shiism in Pakistan, few long-term changes have been made. Terror organizations continue to thrive economically and socially. So why are so many Shia’s being targeted in Baluchistan? The lack of modern development in this region makes it a fertile ground for insurgents to prosper. Development is further limited as terror organizations target individuals rising to power in any sector. Baluchistan is the home to the second most incidents of anti- Shiism. In a five-year period, there have been 127 incidents of anti-Shiism. The majority of incidents have been in the form of targeted shooting.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Located in the northwestern region of Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is home to 12% of Pakistan’s population. The region makes up 10.5% of the nation’s economy despite being one of the geographically smaller areas. Inhabitants of this region are mainly Pashtun, followed by Tajiks and Hazaras. While small communities of Hindus and Christians exist, Islam is prominent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Shia Muslims consist of a minority population – some of them Ismaili.

War and regional instability have left this region as a hub for the militant insurgency. As the region borders Afghanistan, Taliban influence flows through the area. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is home to 13% of Pakistan’s overall incidents of anti-Shiism, resulting in the death of 274.


In late 2001, the terror organization Tehreek-e- Taliban entered the FATA region, creating an array of unrest. Gradually, the Taliban has increased its influence in the region. Adding to the instability of the region is poverty. Despite the area’s reservoirs of marble, copper, limestone, and coal, increased mistrust among government/non-government organizations and regional leaders makes retrieval of resources very difficult. Economic hardships and the uncontrolled movement from the Afghan border has created a market for opioids and contraband trafficking.

There have been 36 Shia deaths in the past five years. In contrast to other regions of Pakistan, FATA has a high rate of bomb attacks targeted at Shia populated areas.


Punjab is the second largest area and most populated region after Baluchistan. In comparison to Baluchistan, however, Punjab is one of Pakistan’s most economically prosperous regions. Over 95% of Punjab is Muslim, the majority being Hanafi Sunni and a small minority of Shia Twelvers.  Sufism is prominent in Punjab as well. Punjab

In the time period between 2012 and 2016, 158 Shia Muslims have lost their lives to targeted shootings, murder, and suicide bombing. In addition to Sindh, Punjab is home to the nation’s higher rates of attacks on Shia processions.

Gilgit Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan is the northernmost region of Pakistan. For years, Pakistan and India have disputed over the region as it can be the perfect input into Kashmir because of its mountainous foray. With a population of more than 1.5 million, Gilgit-Baltistan is one of Pakistan’s most heavily Shia populated areas. This area is of significant geopolitical interest as it allows a pathway to China, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and India.

This region is home to 23 total attacks on Shia Muslims. The majority of those attacks were targeted shootings.

Civil Divide

A Pew Research Center survey taken in 2012 reveals the environment in which religious divides grew in Pakistan. According to the study, which took a sample of 1,450 Pakistanis, 35% reported that they did not consider Shias to be Muslim. Of the 35% mentioned, 50% of Sunnis viewed Shia as non-Muslims. This staggering number is dangerous considering the fact that blasphemy is still illegal in Pakistan. Outward blasphemy may result in death by the mob, as happened in April 2017 when a student was beaten to death by a mob after he questioned the Quran’s teachings on Adam and Eve. According to the Pew survey, 73% of Pakistanis believe in the Blasphemy Laws. Of those questioned, 5% believe that the Blasphemy Laws are geared toward singling out minorities. This 5% consists heavily of Shia and educated Sunnis.

The Pakistani government seems to avoid taking sides in the religious divide, and some politicians have even taken advantage of the conflict. According to the Center for Security Studies, due to these intolerant leaders being local enforcers, the politicians use them to rake in support from the leaders’ respective region. However, in 2014, Taliban militants entered an army-run school, killing 141 people, 132 of which were children. This led to the National Action Plan (NAP), which was a 30-point strategy through which the government would crack down on religious violence including provisions such as special trial courts under the supervision of the army and the stopping of militant outfits and armed gangs within the country.

From 2014 to 2016, 430 people had been executed. This number may seem daunting, but it is undermined by the fact that 80% had no connection to terrorism, and hate speech and literature has not stopped flowing into the public. Even politicians remain unhindered. In 2016, the Pakistani Interior Minister was criticized for meeting officially with an intolerant leader. When questioned, he undermined the NAP and government efforts by stating that the intolerant leader was not a terrorist. Though there has been a drop in violence, the Pakistani government doesn’t seem serious about total religious reconciliation. The Blasphemy Laws, fundamentalist groups, and general intolerance against Shia minorities will keep the religious violence in Pakistan a recurring issue.


As a result of the data obtained of cases of anti-Shiism in Pakistan in 2012-2016, Shia Rights Watch concludes that violations were with the goal of suppressing the power of the Shia community within the larger society by creating fear. While Shia Muslims strive to be a part of their society, extremist organizations aim to limit their social and political involvement. Further, by targeting prominent members of the community, terror organizations create social anxiety, which they hope will suppress the growth of the community by forcing them into hiding. With their actions, terror groups aim to marginalize the Shia identity.

Shia Rights Watch condemns acts of violence against Shia Muslims and all other minority groups. SRW calls on Pakistani authority to hold violators of human rights accountable for their action through just and fair trials. Areas of Pakistan inhabited by Shia Muslims are rich in resources and are strategic openings to neighboring nations. The instability created by extremist organizations have made the retrieval of resources impossible. Increasing security and involving Shia individuals in community building would reduce instability and allow for use to resources in those areas.

History of anti-Shiism in Pakistan has shown that the Shia population is resilient in nature. SRW hypothesizes not a reduction in the population of Shia in Pakistan, but an increase of Shia push for equal rights.


International Religious Freedom 2015 Report with Shia Rights Watch summary

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor International Religious Freedom released their 2015 Report on August 10th detailing human rights violations, including some of what Shia face around the world.

At Shia Rights Watch (SRW) we welcome this report and the attention given to the important issue of human right. Shia Rights Watch hopes to see more detailed report in following years with more collaboration between State Department and right NGOs.

We believe highlighting minority rights in such reports will raise attention to these groups and result in more international effort to recognize and protect all human rights.

The following summary is what is reported by Bureau of Democracy followed by SRW findings that were not included in the IRF report.

  • Afghanistan

Several incidents with the  Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP, showed a targeting of Shia Hazara minorities in kidnapping and beheadings. On different occasions the ISKP targeting Shias resulting in the death of 11, the beheading of four men, two women and one girl. Later in the year the same terrorist organization kidnapped 11 Hazaras  and an additional 30 on a separate incident while also being responsible for the October 9th attack on a Shia religious center in Kabul.

SRW confirmed death of 46 Shia, 57 wounded and 100 arrests.

  • Azerbaijan

The government detained approximately 46 religious leaders and placed limits on the publishing and distribution of religious texts. The response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs was to detain an additional 38 people with charges that human rights activists claim to be fabricated, restrict travel access to the city, and to search homes. Other press reports also show an incident in which Imam Taleh, leader of the independent Muslim Unity movement was severely beaten by Yasamal police.  On March 10th, the government also arrested  theologian, Jeyhun Jafarov with charges of treason.  His religious activities such as leading pilgrimages, television broadcasts, and translation of Iranian literature has led him to still be imprisoned and awaiting at the end of 2015. Lastly, the government has also been accused of demolishing an “unregistered” mosque, placing its founder under investigation.

According to SRW 2015 report, 9 Shia were killed and 35 were arrested in this year.

  • Bahrain

Bahrain, a Shia majority country led by a Sunni government has seen systematic oppression of the Shia through arrests, travel bans, revoked citizenship and more.  The government has detained protesters, journalists, and human rights activists. In June 2015, a court sentence Sheikh Ali Salman to four years of prison.In August the government also issued an additional arrest to Sheikh Hasan Isa.  Government crackdowns on terrorist investigations resulted in 25 Shia to be tried and convicted, with one defendant given the death penalty while other received ten to life in jail. Bahraini authorities have also revoked the citizenship of 72 accused terrorist supports, including both Shia and Sunni. Other acts of anti-shi’ism include discrimination in employment and education in addition to anti-shia commentary in private broadcasts or in vandalism of Shia mosques and the destruction of grave sights.

The Ministry of Interior promised to rebuild the 30 mosques that the government destroyed however only 27 have seen reconstruction. At educational institutes, Shia students applicants are granted less lucrative or prestigious scholarships in fields they did not wish to pursue.  Discrimination is also found in the naturalized process with a Sunni preference, granting Sunnis an expedited process as an attempt to alter the demographic of the nation. On a whole, the larger unemployment rate for Shia shows they are marginalized at large with a lower socio-economic status compared to Bahraini Sunni.

Based on SRW records 393 case of Shia arrest, 97 wounded in attacks and one killed.

  • Bangladesh

While issues of discrimination and religious freedom for religious minorities as a whole is a prominent issue in Bangladesh, the country has seen several incidents of anti-shia crimes. On October 24th, a bomb attack on a Shia Ashura celebration resulted in two deaths and scores injured. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in addition to a November 26  attack on  Shia mosque in Borga that killed one and injured 3. According to the report, religious minorities claim that discrimination also exists in exam questions that drew from the majority religion. Additionally, a lack of minorities teachers resulted in minority students being unable to enroll in classes of their faith.

  • Egypt

Egypt’s 800,000 – 2 million Shia live under an oppressive government. The Egyptian government continues to use anti-Shia rhetoric, harasses the Shia, and takes away their right to worship. The government bans the importation and sale of Shia literature, the media is filled with anti-Shia hate speech, and Shia are seen as deviant from true Islam. A committee has also been formed to investigate any NGO that is suspected of promoting or practicing Shia Islam. The committee has raided institutions, confiscated religious books and arrested leaders. There have also been reports of a retired doctor and others being arrested and sentenced to 5-6 years in jail for “adhering to the Shia faith.” Their crime was transporting Shia CD’s and books. The government has also closed important Shia religious sites, especially during special holidays, saying that She practices are “falsehoods,” with  “no connection to Islam.”

Four Shia arrest was confirmed by SRW during this year.

  • Indonesia

The Indonesian Shia face heavy discrimination and hate speech. The National Anti-Shia Movement (ANNAS) has held several anti-Shia demonstrations, and openly calls Shia the “deviant sect.” Additionally, one mayor banned the observance of a Shia holiday, and posters of anti-Shia rhetoric are common throughout the country, websites, and social media. There have also been accounts of detained Shia being forced to repent and renounce their faith. Additionally, many of the Shia IDPs are not able to return to their homes because the other residents refuse to allow them back in.

  • Iran

While Shia Islam is the official religion of Iran, Shia who do not agree with the practices of the government face strong discrimination, intimidation and arrest. The government closely monitors the statements and views of independent Shia leaders, media outlet, centers and websites. Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi who openly criticized the government is serving an 11 year prison sentence.

SRW reported employees of several independent Shia TVs  were arrested, their donations and properties are ceased and back accounts are freezed.

A shooting in non-Shia city of Khuzestan resulted in two deaths and two injuries in October.

  • Iraq

Iraq has been has been a haven for terrorist groups in 2015; especially Daesh.  The group has sought out minority groups to rape, pillage, and murder minorities in the country.  Hundreds of Shia have been killed by suicide attacks in the last few months.  In a predominantly Muslim country, most Shia are located in or around Baghdad. In June, the Ministry of Human rights announced that 1,000 bodies had been exhumed from mass graves.  These bodies were from a 2014 attack at Camp Speicher.

SRW reported 3861 Shia killed, and 3474 wounded due to anti-Shia activities.

  • Malaysia

With the current restrictions placed on Shia in Malaysia by the government, religious freedom and anti-Shia discrimination is of high concern. The government has continued to forbid non-Sunni practice and barred Muslims from converting to another religion. For muslims in violation of Sharia code, there are imposed fines, detentions and canings.  The Malaysian government continued to detention Shia Muslims for practicing their religion; In October the State Islamic Department issues arrests to 16 people for participating in Shia religious ceremonies stating that there will be punishment for Muslims that deviate from the “true Islamic faith”.  The federal and state governments continued to forbid religious assembly and worship for groups considered to be deviant sects such as Shia.

  • Pakistan

Pakistan has seen an upward turn in extremist activities.  Hundreds of Shia minorities have been killed and injured in the last year by armed sectarian groups.  The groups are targeting Shia houses of worship, religious leaders, and religious gatherings.  Extremist groups are aiming at minority populations based on religious motives.  As the months go by, Shia leaders are reporting more and more hate speech and threats against their people.  It is estimated that upwards of 40 million Shia muslims live in Pakistan. Although it appears the government is against these acts of terror, the violence does not seem to be slowing.

SRW reported killing of 285 Shia, 275 wounded and 6 faith based arrest.

  • Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has had continuous discrimination against the Shia majority on a variety of levels. ISIS has claimed at least five attacks against Shia targets and Shia clerics and activists who advocate for Shia have been arrested; at least one Shia cleric has been executed due to charges of violent opposition. Authorities have arrested more than 1,000 Eastern province Shia since 2011 and groups in Qatif have recorded at least 206 persons remain in prison with others subject to travel bans. At least 30 Shia have been convicted of capital crimes.

Additionally, most mosques have not received official operating licenses because doing so would require the government to explicitly endorse them. The government also did not finance or assist in the construction of Shia mosques.

On May 29th, a suicide bomber killed four Shia attempting to entire a mosque. On August 6th, an attacker carried out another suicide bombing killing 17 people. October 16th a shooter killed five Shia, and later in the month a bomber murdered two people and wounded 26 Shia.

Shia businessmen were also forced to close their shops for all five prayers despite only observing three of the five prayers that Sunni practice.

The government also continued to distribute textbooks with intolerant, anti-Shia materia. Additional reports from Shia groups reveal discrimination in the courts has lengthy sentences would be given to Shia for engaging in peaceful protests.

Based on SRW report 33 shia were killed, 99 wounded and 34 were arrested by the government.

  • Yemen

During evening prayers on September 2, two suicide bombers attacked the Zaydi Shi’a al-Muayyed mosque in Sana’a’s al-Jeraf neighborhood, killing 32 persons and injuring at least 98. After the arrival of paramedics, a follow-on car bomb detonated outside the building. The next day ISIS affiliate Wilayat Sana’a claimed responsibility for the double bombing. Other attacks on Zaydi mosques occurred on March 20, June 17, June 20, July 29, and September 24.

On July 29, a car bomb exploded at the Al-Fayed Al-Hatami mosque in Sanaa, the principal mosque and administrative center for Ismaili Muslims, killing four and wounding six.

SRW confirmed death of 343 civilian Shia and 547 wounded. but it believes the numbers is  higher but could not be recorded due to high risk environment.

  • Nigeria

Human rights organizations reported that army troops killed hundreds of members of the Shia minority Muslim group Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in Zaria, Kaduna State, in December, and buried them in mass graves.

On November 27 a suicide bombing attack on a Shia religious procession passing through Dakasoye, Kano State, killed at least 21.

SRW reported the arrest of community Shia leader Shekh Zakzaky, and killing of hundreds of Shia whose grave are yet to be recognized due to mass burial by army. The army attacked the community during 48 hours window, killing and wounding. According to community members. Some people are still missing. SRW is seriously concerned for the health of Sheikh Zakzaky as his sone reports he is in need of medical aid but is denied access to it.

  • Syria

Anti Shia groups such as ISIS and al-Nusra Front (ANF) targeted Shia dense areas, destroyed Shia shrines, and other religious heritage sites. ANF and some allied rebel groups targeted Druze and Shia minorities in the northern part of the country, claiming responsibility for numerous bombings, including suicide attacks.

In March ISIS also published a video of militants beheading eight Shia in Hama.

After rebels expelled government authorities from Idlib city in March, they surrounded the nearby majority Shia villages of Fu’a and Kafraya, and targeted both with shelling and suicide bombings. The rebels referred to the villagers in Fu’a and Kafraya as “rawafid,” a derogatory term used to refer to Shia Muslims.

In Aleppo Governorate, several rebel groups, including ANF and Ahrar al-Sham, attacked the Shia towns of Nubl and Zahra, which other rebels had been besieging, and portrayed violence against the villages in sectarian terms

Alawite and Shia youth reported Sunni colleagues continued to threaten them in schools and universities due to their religious affiliations and perceived support for the government.

SRW specified 78 Shia killed, 169 wounded and 10 arrests, but it believes the numbers could be higher.

  • Kuwait

A suicide bombing at a Shia mosque in June, killing 26 people and injuring more than 200 others.The government ordered the Shia community to commemorate Ashura and other holidays indoors. Shia continued to report discrimination against them in terms of the training of clergy and employment in the public sector. Shia leaders said discrimination continued to prevent Shia from obtaining leadership positions in public sector organizations, including the police force and the military/security apparatus. BAsed on SRW report there was killing of 27 Shia and 227 were wounded.

  • Libya

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) reported increased hostility towards Shia Muslims and Shia Islam since 2012 at various levels of Libyan society. No specific number of casualty is confirmed.  

  • Morocco

The government to deny registration to local Shia groups which religious leaders and legal scholars said prevented those groups from legally gathering for religious ceremonies or forming associations under which they could operate legally. As the result there were no known Shia mosques.Representatives of minority religious groups said fears of government surveillance led adherents of the Shia faiths to refrain from public worship and instead to meet discreetly in members’ homes.

  • UAE

According to media accounts, the government revoked residency permits for more than 100 noncitizen Shia Muslims, mostly of Iranian and Syrian nationality, during the year.

  • Lebanon

State Department did not specify any anti-Shia activity however based on SRW report a suicide bombing at the southern part of Beirut injured 37 and killed 50 Shia.  moreover faulty association of all Shia with Hizballah has prevented Lebanese Shia from receiving international support and recognition.

  • Madagascar

No Shia rights violation is reported by State Department however according to SRW research five Shia were arrested without explanation and worship center where threaten to be demolished by non state actors .

  • UK

Based on SRW report, a Shia mosque was vandalized in Bradford infusing fear in British Shia community.

  • Somalia

According to SRW sources Mungaab, the mayor of Mogadishu and the governor of the Bandari region vowed to take action against expansion of Shia ideology. He stated “Somalia is a Sunni nation and does not need Shia ideology” according to Somali Current.


Read Full IRF Report

Read Full SRW Report

Shia Rights Watch Bi-Annual Report

Download Printing Version HERE

This Bi-Annual report is based on analysis of monthly reports conducted by Shia Rights Watch. The report summarizes human rights violations toward Shia people in 10 countries beginning in January and ending in June 2016.

Included in this report is a list of countries who have participated, whether actively or passively, in human rights violations against the Shia minority.  We have focused on the following violations: casualties, passport revocation, deportation, arrests, increased sentencing, fines, and denial of basic civil liberties.  This report gives strong evidence that the Shia are clearly being discriminated against.  Although we are not measuring all acts of human rights violations, this report presents undeniably the atrocities happening daily to Shia communities.

It must be noted that Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Kuwait, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria are members of the United Nations. This is important because  these countries have all violated the International Bill of Human Rights. Within this bill, citizens of member states pledge to uphold the following rights for all of their citizens: all humans are born free in dignity and in rights, everyone has the freedom to exercise their opinion, expression, thought, conscience, and religion.  All people have the right to education, participation in government, and the right to assemble.  And finally, all people have the right to leave any country and return, a right to a nationality, and a right to a fair trial if arrested or detained.


Summary of Key Findings:

  • Shia Muslims are targeted and unsafe in many countries throughout the world, this report only highlights the top 10.
  • Shia are oppressed regardless of whether they are the minority or majority in population.
  • Shia are targeted by both terrorist groups and governments alike.
  • Shia Muslims face discrimination in the forms of limited speech, religion, and travel, as well as arrests, injuries and death.  

Shia Rights Watch_BiAnnual_2016

Country Reports

SHia Rights Watch_AzerbaijanAzerbaijan

Although Azerbaijan has a majority Shia population of 85 percent, the country does not tolerate any actions pertaining to freedom of speech or religion. The government sees these acts as a criticism of its institution. Following this, there have been two reported incidents of anti-Shi’ism in Azerbaijan this past year. On the 22nd of May 2016, Azerbaijani authorities destroyed a Shia seminary for the purpose of expanding roads, but the seminary was located in a street alley out of the way. Secondly, the government of Azerbaijan banned the import of 732 religious books and disallowed the publishing of five.  The Republic of Azerbaijan is likely to engage in more violations of human rights as the country controls its own media; therefore staying under the radar.


BangladeshThe country of Bangladesh is a very densely populated country that is home to Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists.  Because of the instability of the government, hate groups have moved in and are targeting minority populations. The growing presence of  the Islamic State in Bangladesh has resulted in one incident of Anti Shi’ism in Dhaka this past year. Alleged ISIS members attacked a Shia preacher in southwestern Bangladesh. His body was found with stab wounds in the head and chest. Police have been skeptical about the assailants’ connections to ISIS, and have also displayed a lack of ability to bring those at large to justice.


Shia Rights Watch_IndiaIndia is a very populated and diverse country with many religious groups.  As a rule, religious freedom is tolerated in this country in most areas.  However, on 1 April, 2016, Indian authorities in the district of Lucknow told Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad that he must hand in his passport within the following ten days. According to police, there are many charges against him, but when he asked whether other people with such charges had their passports taken away, he was not given an answer. This leads many to believe that this was an act of anti-Shiism.  In a statement, Jawad says, “A revenge is being taken against me as I have been raising my voice against anomalies committed by the district administration in the Hussainabad Trust.”  Moreover, the cases in which the police are charging him were resolved back in 2013, as the cleric states, “Regional Passport Office (RPO) in connivance with district administration is trying to harass me. The cases against me mentioned in the letter sent by RPO were withdrawn in 2013 and the then District Magistrate Anurag Yadav’s letter on 23 April, 2013 mentioned that.” Three years later he should not still be punished for crimes previously withdrawn, making this seem more like an excuse to condemn him and his religious beliefs.


Shia Rights Watch_Kuwait

Kuwait has a Shia population of 30 to 40 percent.  In the past, this country has shown tolerance to the Shia minority population.  However, in March of 2016, the Kuwaiti government deported 74 people for alleged extremist ties.  A prominent activist, whose name has not been disclosed for safety reasons, has also had his visa taken away. The presence of the Islamic State in the region is not helping matters.  



Shia Rights Watch_Nigeria

Nigeria’s current instability and conflict have resulted in human rights atrocities by a variety of actors and in numerous forms. While Muslims represent a one third religious minority, the Shia sect represents only 5 percent of the Muslim community and has the fastest growing population in the country.  The estimated 1,000 lives lost in December of 2015 set a precedent for the 2016 acts of Anti-Shi’ism, with a released list of 705 missing or killed persons in January. In the same month, a suicide bomber killed 10 civilians. In March, an armed security force halted a Shia procession led by the Islamic Movement. On May 3rd, the government also administered a death sentence to a Shia Muslim. Gunfire in June also resulted in the death of 18 and left 10 wounded.



Shia Rights Watch_BiAnnual_2016


Shia Rights Watch_Pakistan

Pakistan is a Sunni Muslim majority country in which the Shia make up a large minority population of about 20% of the country. Since January, 18 people have been killed and 36 wounded. None of the assailants have been identified in any of the killings. One of the victims was a religious scholar of Shia school of thought named Allama Imdad Hussan Jafri who was slaughtered in Hyderabad, Pakistan. Unknown armed terrorists illegally entered the scholar’s home and killed him.  On 27 June, a bomb was planted on a bicycle near a mall- 3 people were killed and 32 injured in this incident.

One man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for a facebook post deemed religiously offensive. This incident brings the total to 9 people who have been jailed.  Police are still not giving any reason for the imprisonment. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic that recognizes Islam as its official faith.  However, Muslim populations have been under extreme scrutiny, especially the Shia minority. 


Shia Rights Watch_BahrainHuman rights violations are very common in the Shia majority, Sunni led country of Bahrain.  The government has been trying to limit the freedom of speech, gathering, and religion of the Shia population. It is impossible to hold any one person accountable as these incidents are government led. In the first six months of 2016, one Bahraini Shia has been killed during non-violent protesting by police. The government has arrested 231 Bahraini Shia for unjust reasons.  Many Shia have been accused and charged of “terrorist activities” and are jailed under the false pretence of national security. These arrests occurred during Shia led peaceful protests. Jail sentences range from 3 years to life. In addition, 58 people have received increased sentencing on current prison terms. Eight Shia civilians have been forcibly deported based on faulty accusations. It is documented that 30 citizens have had their citizenship revoked and fined including prominent Shia leaders. Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has recently been detained and is still being held. Moreover, on 19 June, the Al- Khalifa regime announced the regulation of “khoms,” or Shia religious tax. The Council of Shia scholars has strongly condemned the government announcement. Bahrain holds the highest amount of human rights violations than other countries. The government is working to change the demographics of the nation and phase the Shia people out by revoking citizenships, deportation, and extensive prison sentences.


Shia Rights Watch_Iraq

Shia in Iraq make up a two thirds majority of the population, showing that the religion has a significant presence in shaping the country’s culture. Iraq has had the largest number of Shia deaths and injuries in the world; thus far 2016 has brought an estimated 1416 deaths and 913 injuries. This trend has been true for the past two years as reported by Shia Rights Watch. The violence typically occurs in the city of Baghdad, which has had a documented 92 incidents this year. Other locations such as Karbala, Muqdadiyah, Madaen, Mahmudiya, and  Kadhimiya have also seen multiple attacks on Shia. Thus far, May has held the highest number of casualties. Typical causes of these deaths are a result from car bombings or improvised explosive devices by non-state actors, resulting from the ongoing war. This is troubling news as Iraq is home to many Shia shrines which in turn draws millions of Shia visitors every year.   The attacks and deaths in June have decreased greatly, as Iraqi security increases during holy times. With June as the month of Ramadan this year, more Shia are protected along with other Muslims. Nevertheless, these acts of hatred and violence should not fluctuate or be allowed to go on regardless of the time of the year.

Shia Rights Watch_BiAnnual_2016

Saudi Arabia

Shia Rights Watch_Saudi ArabiaIt is no secret that Saudi Arabia has a long standing history with human rights violations.  These past months have been no different. On Sunday April 22nd, the Saudi government sentenced Issa al-Hamid, an activist, to 9 years in jail for protesting for his human rights. He is also banned from foreign travel through this period. Al-Hamid is a senior member of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM). The court found him guilty of instigating people to violate public order, insulting the judiciary, defaming a number of senior religious figures and establishing an unlicensed organization.  Monday April 23rd, Saudi Arabia approved  the death sentence for Shia activist Yusof al-Mosheykhas, in the city of Awwamiyah in the eastern region of Qatif.  He was arrested in January 2014 after attending anti-government protests and charged with an act of terrorism.  In June, 14 Shia Muslims were sentenced to death by Saudi officials.  Nine others were given sentences of 3 to 15 years.  Later that month, Saudi security forces apprehended top Shia cleric Sheikh Jafar Sweileh on political grounds in Qatif. Activists say that the cleric has been arrested for his writings in defense of freedom of expression. Later that month, a Saudi man has been shot dead during a police raid in the country’s predominantly Shia east.  An interior ministry spokesman said Abdul Rahim al-Faraj was suspected of killing security forces personnel, however, there is no proof of these allegations. Illegal arrests are regular and frequent in this country.


Shia Rights Watch_SyriaViolence toward Shia Muslims has grown more severe alongside the current war in Syria, as civilian Shia are associated politically, despite having no international ties. The Shia population in Syria is approximately 13 percent, with Alawites being the leading majority. This past year, 249 civilians have been killed and 404 wounded in several incidents, primarily from suicide bombings and ongoing airstrikes. The city of Sayyida Zeinab witnessed 71 Shia killed and 100 wounded in January, followed by a suicide bombing in Damascus resulting in 143 dead and 200 injured. In June, Damascus lost 20 lives and saw dozens injured.




Complete Overview

Shia Rights Watch_BiAnnual_2016

The figure above shows the accumulated number of Shia casualties between the months of January to June 2016. Syria and Iraq have the highest number of casualties as a result of insecurity created by the war against ISIS. Shia deaths from January to June totaled 1,737 with 1,383 wounded.  The figure shows a clear lack of safety for the Shia population with regional instability and extremism being the main contributions to Shia civilian deaths.


Shia Rights Watch_BiAnnual_2016


The figure above shows total number of Shia human rights violations between the months of January and June 2016. In the country of Bahrain, Shia are the majority.  Meaning in all other countries listed above, this group is a minority.  Bahrain has the highest amount of human rights violations. This is due to its government attempting to keep the Shia oppressed and phazed out of the country altogether following the 2011 protests that have continued since. The current power struggle has only led to more instability, and is creating a current cycle that calls for greater attention from the International community. Examples of violence are deportation, revocation of citizenship, and arrests. Human rights violations  between January and June totaled 481.  These violations include unlawful citizenship revocation, forced deportation, increased prison sentences, and fines.  The Shia people are also denied freedom of expression, the practice of religion, and denied proper education.


Shia Muslims are the largest minority group in the Middle East. Their population is growing quickly. Despite the Shias proven peaceful demeanor, they are targets of everyday conflict.

Shia Rights Watch believes the Shia people, as anyone are entitled to basic human rights.  These basic rights include but are not limited to: the rights to education, employment, freedom of expression, and freedom of religious practice.

The ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria are big factors in the slaying and oppression of Shia minorities. Terror groups such as ISIS are targeting minority groups, such as Shia, and massacring them. Consequently, once ISIS is involved, it is hard to measure the atrocities enacted among minority groups because government agencies stop intervening. Over 3,000 Shia have been killed and wounded in the first 5 months of 2016.  

Moreover, close to 500 human rights violations have occurred in the first few months of the year.  Most violations were in countries other than Syria and Iraq.  Governments in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain fail to see the significance of minorities and seek to diminish the population altogether.  
It is important to bring light to these violations and raise awareness of all minority oppression; not just Shia.  By doing so, we can bring peace and safety to people’s lives. Moreover, this will stabilize war torn countries and hinder terror groups in the region. 

Shia Rights Watch issues its 2015 Annual Report

SRW annual Casualty Report, depicting cases of anti-Shiism throughout the past year including cases of arrest, injury, murder, and detainment. Based on in depth research of SRW, an average of, twenty-nine to thirty Shia Muslims were killed, arrested, or wounded on a daily basis in 2015.

“2015” reports 5093 Shia Muslims are killed, 5416 wounded, and 431 arrested during between January 1st to December 31st, 2015.  Both state and non-state agents such as ISIS have claimed responsibility for these attacks, making the Shia people largely unsafe in 25 countries around the world; Shia have claimed to feeling insecure in 50% of all Islamic nations.


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International Shia Day

Declaring an International Day was a decision Shia Rights Watch made after realizing the amount of misinformation and lack of awareness that the international community has in regards to Shia communities. The practical significance of the day revolved around raising public and governmental awareness of the human rights violations that occur against Shia Muslims, which go relatively unrecognized by international groups and organizations. Like other International Days, such as International Women’s Day, International Day for Shia Rights allows for an inclusive conversation to occur about the issues affecting that specific group. Moreover, the International Day for Shia Rights allowed for the continued promotion for governmental support in favor of the adoption of H.Res.105 and S.Res.69.

Bahrain; The Lost Generation

  • ISBN-10: 1512057819
  • ISBN-13: 978-1512057812

The Shia Rights Watch report entitled “Bahrain: The Lost Generation” is 48 pages, detailing incidents of violence and intimidation against Bahraini Shia Muslims in 2014. Government sponsored violence has affected the lives of many Shia communities around Bahrain. The report gives a detailed account of how this already oppressed group has been marginalized further in recent years through systematic arrests, torture , and citizenship revocation. The report is based on interviews, site visits, news articles, NGO reports, and other human rights reports.


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Pakistan;Rights Unrecognized

The Shia Rights Watch report entitled “Pakistan: Rights Unrecognized” details widespread militant violence against Shia Muslims in Pakistan. This 24 page long report gives a glimpse into how targeted shootings and mosque bombings have inflicted immense pain on the Shia minority around the country. Pakistani Shia Muslims have been targets of un-investigated violence throughout the history and the oppression continues.

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The Unwelcomed Muslims in Malaysia

The “The Unwelcomed Muslims in Malaysia” is a well-documented report of incidents of Shia rights violation in the country of Malaysia. According to the report, Shia is considered a “deviant” interpretation of Islam and is a banned faith. In the year 2010 and 2011 the government openly attacked two of the Shia ceremonies and arrested many of the participants.

Shia Muslims do not feel secure in the country and practice their faith secretly.

The document narrates the situation of the Shia Muslims in this country and recommends solutions to the problem.

The report is one of a kind in highlighting the Shia rights violations in Malaysia.


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The Shia in Yemen

This Shia Rights Watch report entitled “The Shia in Yemen”, documents incidents of violence and intimidation against Shia Muslims in Yemen. Documenting cases until the end of 2014, the report gives a detailed account of how Shia have been targeted because of their religious beliefs.

Kidnappings, murders, and illegal detentions have occured periodically during the Sada’a Wars between 2004 and 2010 and after the Arab Spring in 2011.


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Saudi Shia Muslim Victims of Secterian Isolation PART 2


Saudi Shia Muslim Victims of Secterian Isolation PART 2

This 23 pages report is part 2 to the original report that was published by SRW in 2012. This part highlights some of the heath and economical violations toward Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia.


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