Week of 10/18/15
In a deadly incident this week, 10 Shia Muslims were killed and 20 were wounded in the town of Bhaag in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan. On Thursday October 22nd, a bomb was detonated at a Shia mosque while dozens of mosque goers were present. Of the 10 Shia Muslims were killed, six of them were children. This wave of violence occurred during the month of Muharram, where Shia Muslims commemorate the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad.
Mosque bombings, while a periodic occurrence in Pakistan, had subsided during the last two to three months but this incident could signal a deadly resurgence of violence against the minority group.
On October 16th, yet another attack occurred against Shia mourners at Ashura gatherings. Two young men were killed in a drive by shooting at an Ashura festival in the south-western province of Khuzestan around 11pm. Hossein Karimi Yeganeh (28), and Bahmn Rezaie (25) were shot and killed by the assailants, and two others were injured.
No group has yet to claim responsibility for this attack but it came hours after a deadly shooting in Qatif City in Saudi Arabia where five Shia mourners were killed. The attack in Qatif City was claimed by the Islamic State and it is possible that there is a connection between the two events. Shia Rights Watch will continue to follow updates from these incidents and will provide any information that emerges.
On Friday, October 21, 2015, anti-Shia committed yet another atrocity when a gunman affiliated with the group shot and killed five Shia at a Muharram gathering in the Saihat area of Qatif City. After shooting the mourners, the assailant was shot and killed by Saudi police. Later, a group calling itself the Islamic State-Bahrain state would claim responsibility for the attack. The group stated that one of their soldiers attacked Shia infidels and that “infidels would not be safe in the island of Muhammad”.
Shia Muslims have been a regular target of ISIS as they are deemed as heretics or infidels by the extremist group. Bombings, shootings, and hateful propaganda have been disseminating throughout the Middle East by the group. Shia Rights Watch strongly condemns this deplorable action by the group and will continue to track its anti-Shiism to expose it to the international community. Unfortunately, until the international community comes together to combat these actions, these events will continue.
On Tuesday October 21st, Bahraini Security Forces launched a fierce crackdown on Shia mourners during Ashura festivals. Bahraini security forces were spotted pulling down Ashura banners, claiming that they were erected in “undesignated areas”. In response to these actions, Shia mourners began protesting the security forces, to which the security forces responded by firing buckshots at the crowd in an attempt to disperse them.
Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions of the Bahraini Security forces as a violation of the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion of the Shia majority. The month of Muharram is a solemn moment for Shia Muslims and they should be able to commemorate such a moment without fear of obstruction.
Regular bombings have continued throughout Shia neighborhoods in Iraq, leading to the death of at least 48 Shia and the injury of at least 30. Most of these attacks have come through IEDs in Shia areas of Baghdad. The largest such attack occurred on October 20th when IEDs accompanied by gunfire killed 12 Shia Muslims in Baghdad. No group has taken responsibility for these attacks but the attacks a apart of a series of attacks against Shia Muslims in the country, many of which have been perpetrated by ISIS.
In Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, hundreds of Shia mourners were shot with tear gas when their procession was interrupted by Indian authorities. Shia mourners were restricted from the Jahangir Chowk area and once they were there, authorities fired teargas shells at them. Indian authorities stated that they took these actions because they didn’t want to incite protests by Shia mourners over the death of a Kashmiri trucker who was killed in a bomb attack.
Shia Rights Watch condemns the restriction of the free movement and free expression of Shia mourners. As the world’s largest democratic country, there needs to be greater respect for the expression of religious minorities.
In Indonesia, a country with a violent history of anti-Shiism, has witnessed a flaring of this hatred this week. A compound hosting at least 30 asylum seekers from Afghanistan in the town of Yogyakarta was stormed by an anti-Shia mob. The asylum seekers decorated they compound they were staying in with Ashura banners to commemorate the death of Imam Hussain and once the anti-Shia group heard about this, dozens of men stored the compound. Once the group entered the compound they ordered the group to leave the neighborhood because they were “proselytizing Shiite teachings”.
Officers in the area were deployed to evacuate the group from this situation where the asylum seekers spent the night at a police station.
Shia Rights Watch condemns the hateful action of this anti-Shia group and urges the local Yogyakarta authorities to work to promote tolerance of both refugees and religious minorities. This country’s anti-Shia history has been a stain on this emerging nation and more needs to be done to promote pluralism throughout the country.