Incidents of Anti-Shiism, July 2020

The month of July stood witness to 406 individual incidents of violence, mainly in the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Iraq. 

Shia Rights Watch emphasizes that reports of anti-Shiism serve as the tip of the iceberg. Many cases of Anti-Shiism are not reported due to fear of violence. Moreover, incidents of direct violence have a higher degree of reporting in comparison to systemic or cultural anti-Shiism. Shia Rights Watch notes that detriments caused by anti-Shiism are wave-like, influencing families and communities, beyond the individual.

Afghanistan

Over 67% of violence reported in July took place in the nation of Afghanistan. Explosions across Ghazni, Samangan, Ghor, Baghlan, and Kabul left 157 individuals dead or injured. Many of those deceased were women and children. 

All of the reported incidents of violence were initiated by Taliban enforcers and were designed to inflict maximum loss of life to civilians identified as Shia Muslims.   

The attacks in Ghazni, Samangan, Baghlan, and Kabul consisted of car bombs or roadside detonations targeting travelers. 

In late July, the United Nations reported an overall 13% decline in violence against civilians in Afghanistan compared to the first six months of 2019. Nonetheless, anti-Shia violence remains prominent and at a higher rate compared to violence targeting the general public. 

Moreover, while the reduction of violence is promoted as a function of the peace agreement between Shia Rights Watch highlights the reduction of the congregation and social activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason for the decline reported by the United Nations. 

Pakistan

Two mass anti-Shiism incidents were reported to Shia Rights Watch in July, one in Quetta and another in the Parachinar. The incidents resulted in the loss of life and injury of 29 Shia Muslims. 

The detonation of a bomb on the 21st lead to the death of seven and the injury of one in Quetta. Quetta, the capital of the Baluchistan province,  is home to a dense population of Shia Muslims, many of which are members of the Hazara community.   

On the 23rd of July, a bombing in an open-air market in Parachinar, a majority Shia populated town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan. The bomb resulted in the injury of 28 Shia Muslims. Many of those injured are in critical condition.  Parachinar was the target of extremist violence on numerous occasions in 2019 based on its dense Shia population. 

In recent years, efforts have been by the Pakistani government to apprehend perpetrators of direct violence against Shia Muslims. None-the-less, authorities have failed to recognize Shia Muslims as a group with a higher rate of targeting by terror organizations, and anti-Shia rhetoric remains prominent across the country. 

Saudi Arabia 

In July, raids in Shia dominant neighborhoods in Saudi Arabia have been prominent forms of anti-Shiism. 

Several individuals were also arrested amidst the raids, one of whom was Ali Abdul Wahid Taqi. Another from the town of Safwa was shot and injured by government forces. 

Raids in the Kingdom have long been used as forms of intimidation. Shia Muslims live as inferior citizens and are frequently limited in religious expression. 

Bahrain

Despite being a Shia – majority nation, the Kingdom of Bahrain is plagued with anti-Shia sentiments. Shia Muslims live as second class citizens and are limited in expression and free speech. 

In the month of July, raids, arrests, and the thwarting of protests against death sentences were prominent in Bahrain. 

Authorities have upheld the death sentence for 12 pro-democracy activists. More than a dozen groups have signed open letters in protest, and 19,000 tweets and online posts have been made, calling on the King to commute the sentences on accounts of torture, extractions, and lacking due process. 

The letter called for commuted death sentences for Mohammed Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa, stating, 

“We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to commute the death sentences of Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa, who have exhausted all legal remedies available to them after the Court of Cassation upheld their death sentences,”

Ramadhan and Moosa, along with ten others, await ratification from the King after exhausting all legal avenues. Their sentences are based upon confession extracted after torture, including but not limited to threats to family members and being suspended by the limbs for days.  

Across the month, the towns and neighborhoods of Jid Hafs, al-Bilad al-Qadim, Akkar, Abu Saiba, and al-Musalla were raided by authorities. Locals report raids as attempts to intimidate against activism. 

Iraq

Nine individual incidents of anti-Shiism have led to the injury and death of 18 Shia Muslims. Consistent with previous months, Baghdad and Diyala were locations with higher frequencies of direct violence. 

Anti-Shiism in Iraq was in the form of explosions and targeted shootings. Officials have identified ISIS assailants as perpetrators of bombings targeting travel routes and Shia neighborhoods. 

Iraq continues to struggle to quell ISIS re-expansion amidst the reorganization of forces in efforts to enforce COVID-19 quarantine requirements. Iraq’s fast action to limit the spread of COVID-19 was successful largely due to the support of the countries military. Meanwhile, however, researchers have noted an increase in the number of ISIS activities during the first six months of 2020. Given the recent rise in the spread of the virus, concerns of feeble efforts against ISIS activity grow. Military officials have announced the resurrection of ISIS power, noting increased complexity in attacks and an increase in improvised explosive device attacks and targeted shootings. 

 

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