On November 30th, Iraq experienced two bombings in Baghdad which targeted Shia Muslims during the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage; fifteen people were reported dead and thirty-eight people were reported injured, following these attacks. . The first attack occurred at a checkpoint in the Saiydiyah district on a route Shia pilgrims use to travel to Karbala. In this attack nine people were killed and 21 were injured. The second attack occurred in the northern neighborhood of Shaab which killed at least six and injured 17.
No group has claimed responsibility for these attacks but it is likely that they were perpetrated by ISIS or ISIS-sympathizers. Last week, an ISIS plot to booby-trap dolls on an Arbaeen pilgrimage route was foiled by security forces. Shia Rights Watch condemns this horrendous attack and calls for greater protection for the millions of Shia pilgrims and residents in Iraq.
On November 26th gunmen opened fire on a Shia mosque in northern Bangladesh which killed one and injured three. This ISIS-orchestrated attack occurred just a month following a deadly attack on a Shia shrine which injured at least 80 people. These attacks come in the midst of a wave of deadly attacks against secular bloggers and religious minorities in the country.
Yet another Shia religious procession was attacked as a suicide bomb was detonated during the public commemorations on November 28th in the Nigerian city of Kano. The death toll has risen to 22 with 38 injuries. Despite this attack, the Shia pilgrims would continue their journey from Kano to Zaria in the neighboring state.
The extremist group Boko Haram took responsibility for the attack the next day. Boko Haram, in addition to its other terror attacks, has periodically bombed Shia gatherings throughout the country.
On December 2nd, the government of Azerbaijan carried out a raid on the town of Nardaran and reportedly harassed residents and tore down Shia religious symbols. This move by the government comes on the heels of clashes between security forces and alleged Shia militants near Baku. In the past week, dozens of people have been arrested under suspicion of radicalism and anti-government activities.
Many details have yet to be disclosed from this raid but Shia Rights Watch urges the government of Azerbaijan to respect the civil liberties and religious expression of all people within its borders. Despite being a Shia-majority country, Azerbaijan has cracked down on dissent from its citizens. Shia Muslims in Nardaran face increasing scrutiny from the government as the lifestyle in this area is more conservative than official government standards of religious expression.