July 1st to 8th, 2016
The first week of July has consisted of relentless violence. In addition to the daily improvised explosive devices in Shia populated areas of Baghdad, numerous suicide bombings have left over 350 people dead. The first major incident occurred on the 2nd of July as a vehicle packed with explosives was detonated at a local Shopping center in Karrada, Iraq after midnight, a time with the highest density of shoppers preparing for Eid al-Fitr. The explosion was the unset for dozens of fires in and around the shopping city, leaving dozens of bodies burned beyond recognition. This incident was reported to be the deadliest terror attack in Iraq since 2003. The most recent reports show the loss of 292 lives as a result of the Karrada bombing.
The second largest attack was the result of consequent bombings in Balad, Iraq in the shrine of Sayed Mohammad bin Imam Ali- Hadi. Initially, a suicide bomber detonated his vest in the crowded marketplace leading to the entrance of the shrine. Then a gunmen stormed the shrine and shot with little discrimination. A third terrorist was shot dead before being able to detonate his vest. The city of Balad is located 25 miles north of Baghdad. As a result of the attack, 35 were killed and 50 others were injured.
Attacks targeting Shia in Iraq have more blatant than ever. Both Karrada and Balad are pre-dominant Shia cities. Thus far, Shia deaths in Iraq have totaled 385.
Tension continues to boil as Unethical treatment of Bahraini citizens continue in the Kingdom by government officials. Shia Muslims continue to live under oppression as their rights are constantly undermined and their beliefs are brought under question by limitations in expression.
On July 5th, 16 Shia Bahraini were sentenced to a conjoined detainment period of 92 years in prison over their rights to assembly.
There remains no new development in the case of Shaikh Isa Qasem, a prominent scholar in the Bahraini Shia community. Further, local sources report that internet connections and cellular coverage have been disabled in the town of Diraz, Qassems home town. In addition, checkpoints have been put in place surrounding the town, checking entrance and exit of commuters. In protest of the lack of development in the case of Sheikh Isa Qassem, the council of Shia mosque Imams announced that while Eid prayers were going to be held, there would be no celebratory program for Eid in Shia mosques.
Days following bombings in Medina, two explosions occurred in the city of Qatif outside a local mosque. Qatif is home to one of Saudi Arabia’s largest Shia density.
The first bomb was a car bomb and the second a suicide bomber. Sources report no casualties as a result of the bombs, which may have been because the attack occurred just before 7 pm, near iftar, as residents were indoors breaking their fasts.
While no terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack, one can infer that the attacks were the result of anti-Shia sentiment fueled by Wahhabism and aimed to incite fear in this religious minority.
A sign of continuing anti-Shia sentiment in the country (and region), Syed Shahid Shirazi was killed via shooting by members of Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) on Multan Road in Dera Ismail Khan near University Wensam College. The lack of government action and continued targeting of Shia killing has incited protest by local Shia in Multan road.