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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.