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Anti-Shi’ism: a New Terminology in the Human Rights Field 

The term "Anti-Shi’ism" means prejudice against or hatred of Shia Muslims.

The term was first introduced by Shia Rights Watch in 2011. The act of Anti-Shi’ism, however, has a long history.

Shia in History

Shia have a long history of facing opposition to injustice. Ever since the death of the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad, Shia have faced discrimination because they criticized the Caliphs for unjust and violent acts. Shia would advocate non-violence and equal human rights for all; Caliph on the other hand would continue their neglect of people’s basic human rights.

The growth of these ideological differences led to the formation of anti- Shia extremist groups, such as the Wahabbi, Salafi and Nasebi sects. Many Shia have lost their freedom, dignity, and lives throughout history at the hands of such groups. Eleven out of twelve Shia Imams and their companions were murdered by either anti-Shi’i groups or dictators. It can therefore be concluded that anti- Shi’ism has been a threat to Shia since the death of Prophet Muhammad.

Current Situation

In recent years, and with the financial support of Saudi Arabia, Anti-Shi’ism has increased dramatically throughout the world: Demolition of Shia Shrines in Saudi Arabia, attacks on Shia homes in Bahrain, mass killings of Shia in Pakistan, road bombs in Shia populated areas of Syria and Iraq, bloodshed of Shia and Alawies in Damascus, burning down of the Shia residents homes in Indonesia and pressure on Shia in Malaysia are among the most recent examples of anti–Shi’ism.

Murder and homicides however, are not the only manifestation of anti- Shi’ism.

Anti-Shi’ism is found in other forms including, but not limited to:

Faith (some sects consider the Shia to be non- believers (Kuffar),

Economic (Shia are unable to climb to high level of government jobs, nor can they hold critical positions in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia)

Social (Shia are excluded from the norm of the society in Malaysia)

Subjugation (In some parts of the world, Shia are treated as second-class citizens)

Anti-Shi’ism: A Growing Phenomenon

Anti-Shi’ism is gaining stronger holds in society; it is growing and spreading in many areas including media and human right organizations.

Anti-Shi’ism and Media

The most modern example of Anti-Shi’ism can be witnessed in the Media. Since the Arab Spring, Shia have been threatened by extremists; thousands have been murdered and injured; many Shia women and children have been arrested and tortured, and historical sites have been demolished and diminished.


Many media outlets remains quiet towards such inhumane acts against Shia.

Anti-Shi’ism and Human Rights Organizations

Since the beginning of the 2011 uprising, as anti-Shi’ism flared in the Middle East, SRW has contacted many human rights organizations to take action and stop the violence against Shia, however no serious action was taken. As a result the numbers of murders are increasing every day in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia. Those injured in Syria and Bahrain have no access to medical facilities. Women and children have no security in Syria. In Saudi Arabia, Shia cannot practice their basic human rights, they are considered second-class citizens, and have absolutely no freedom. In Malaysia Shia do not have the right to practice or teach their faith in public. In Indonesia, Shia have no homes to live in. 


Many human rights organizations prefer silence and do not get involved.


“Anti-Shi’ism” in Dictionaries


Shia Rights Watch, is proud to be the first to introduce "Anti-Shi’ism" as a new vocabulary to dictionaries.

Shia Right Watch contacted a number of dictionaries in 2012 and asked them to add Anti-Shi’ism to their vocabulary lists. Recently Shia rights violations increased around the globe and it is very important that dictionaries offer the best word to define hate crimes and discrimination toward Shia Muslims. Urban and Merriam Webster dictionaries welcomed the new terminology.

Complete information regarding the new terminology can be found on the following links.

S.R.W appreciates Urban and Merriam Webster Dictionaries for their fast respond and invites all human rights organizations and Media outlets to use “Anti-Shi’ism” when reporting human rights violations toward Shia Muslims.


SRW and Anti-Shi’ism

SRW insists that the term “Anti-Shi’ism” must be used in regards to crimes against Shia. The world is witnessing these heinous acts that are being carried out in a prejudicial and systematic approach toward Shia through the world. The term “anti-Shi’ism” and its derivation offers a realistic depiction of events and their impact, and recognizes the persecution that targets Shia as a group, solely on the basis of their beliefs. These crimes are serious unjust acts that threaten the lives and livelihood of Shia. These threats must be recognized and must be stopped immediately.



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