ISIS continued to terrorize Shia Muslims in 2016 when gunmen stormed the al-Jawhara shopping center in New Baghdad on January 11th. The two assailants began shooting and when security forces entered the mall to confront them, they detonated their explosive vests. In total, 18 people were killed in this Shia majority area.
Almost simultaneously, another bomb detonated at a tea shop in the town of Muqdadiya 50 miles north of Baghdad. In this incident, 20 people were killed. Later in the day, a car bomb exploded in south-eastern Baghdad which killed five civilians.
While no group initially claimed responsibility for these attacks, ISIS would later post a message online that stated that they had targeted the “rejectionist heathens” through these attacks.
On January 14th further attacks were carried out against the Shia community around Baghdad and 10 civilians were killed. The first attack involved the detonation of an improvised explosive device which killed two and injured four others in the town of Taji.
More explosions and shootings occurred in the areas of Sheikh Omar, Hussainiyah, al-Jihad, Shaab, and Latifiyah.
Unfortunately rather than slowing down, the attacks against Shia Muslims has increased. Shia Rights Watch condemns these attacks and calls for greater protection of the Shia community in the face of this renewed violence.
On January 12th, gunmen attacked a Shia religious center in Sitra. Gunmen drove by the Al-Marzouq Hussainia hall and fired upon it and quickly sped off. Nobody was killed in this incident and the gunmen have yet to be identified or apprehended. Shia Rights Watch condemns these actions against the Bahraini Shia community and calls for greater protection for Shia Muslims at their places of worship.
January 14th marks the start of Sheikh Ali Salman’s trial and Shia Rights Watch reiterates its call for his release. The Sheikh was arrested on December 28, 2014 and charged with attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers. As the leader of the main opposition group, this trial is yet another way for the Bahraini government to stifle dissent within its borders.
In a new report published by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, 42 citizens (including 5 children) were arrested in the first week of 2016. Of these 42 citizens, 43% of them were arrested during a police crackdown on a rally to show solidarity with Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr who was executed on New Year’s Day. In addition to the arrests, the Bahraini judicial system sentenced three people to life in prison and six others received a total of 30 and a half years in prison. Shia Rights Watch condemns the excessive nature of the Bahraini security forces and judicial system. A top-down reform of law enforcement needs to be conducted immediately.
The nine Shia lawmakers in Kuwait’s parliament boycotted the national assembly on January 13th and 14th due to growing anti-Shiism among the assembly. The lawmakers cite accusations made by their colleagues saying that they are agents of Iran and members of Hezbollah. In addition to accusations made by their colleagues, the Shia members state that a recent judicial decision to convict 22 individuals including an Iranian national. The Iranian national was charged with recruiting Kuwaiti nationals to travel to Lebanon to fight with Hezbollah. This trial has been condemned by many for being flawed as it is likely the confessions obtained from the defendants came after torture from security forces.