Incidents of Anti-Shiism in June 2019
Shia rights violations continue in June, with Anti-Shia incidents witnessed in some countries. Most violation reports are from Bahrain, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Anti-Shia violations, including but not limited to, imprisonment, physical and emotional torture, limited or no access to medical assistance, hate speech, explosion, and executions.
- More than 23 Shia suffered from medical negligence.
- 68 Shia Muslims died or were injured in explosions or slaughtering.
- 6 Shia were summoned for questioning or were illegally imprisoned.
- 167 Shia received unjust prison sentences.
- 2 Shia Muslims had their rights to rent a property revoked.
- 1 Shia was abducted.
It is important to reinforce that the reports are only a sample of anti-Shiism violations faced by the Shia minority. Any violations not cataloged in this report are still valid and deserve to be recognized as well. Shia Rights Watch notes that violence against Shia Muslims is under-reported by victims and unreported by media outlets since many religious minorities live in fear of further persecution.
The situation in Afghanistan was particularly worrisome, and just like previous reports, the main focus of violation occurred in Kabul in the forms of explosions. More than 30 Shias and members of the Afghan security forces were attacked earlier in June. Members of the Islamic State claimed the attack that was responsible for the death and injury of many Shia civilians. The attacks were carried out in two stages, first was the detonation of an explosion near a bus with over 25 Shia, and the second when security personal gathered around the bus.
The attacks on the Shia population in Afghanistan have been happening throughout history, and they are extreme and must be addressed in different ways as possible. Therefore, it is essential to continue with the efforts to advocate for minority rights in this country.
Anti-Shiism varies in nature in Bahrain, and, the country continues to be unsafe for the Shia majority. In the past, the Shia population was faced with many violations, in and out of prison, even after arrests. The violations are constant, ongoing, and non-stop. Anti-Shiism is expressed in the forms of medical negligence in jails, detention of religious figures, and trials against Shia for many different reasons.
Early this month, a journalist was summoned for questioning by Manama’s security services for criticizing the kingdom’s interior ministry on social media. The arrest comes after the ministry threatened social media users with legal action. The harassment of journalists by authorities is not new and continues to grow in different forms.
Within days, a Shia cleric was interrogated by the security service after being summoned for questioning and spending a month in detention. The reasons for the interrogation were not released. After this incident, another cleric was on trial for “allegedly” insulting the Rashidun Caliphate.
The violations continue throughout the month, taking different forms. A Bahraini rights campaigner reported many cases of medical negligence in the Jaw Prison of Bahrain. Among the reports, there are cases where treatment was “delayed.” It was also reported that more than 20 detainees are suffering from sickle cell anemia and are receiving no treatment. Due to the lack of medical treatment, detainees decided to go on a hunger strike over their extreme situation in Jaw Prison. Later on, a detainee developed a mental illness after many years of being denied medical treatment, suffering from amnesia and another psychological disorder.
Bahrain’s Shia majority has certainly been marginalized for years and continue to be. Not much has been done to prevent violations from happening.
Later in June, a court in the Kingdom of Bahrain handed 167 prison sentences against Shia pro-democracy protesters. Fifty-six of the defendants received ten years in jail and were accused of “attacking police officers,” and the remaining accepted one-year terms. Once more, the prosecutor of Bahrain orders the detention of another Shia religious figure.
Again, the violation of rights is present and ongoing. Meanwhile, international rights groups have repeatedly critiqued the regime for marginalizing Bahrain’s Shia majority.
Incidents in Baghdad against Shia population have not been reported lately, but the event later in June is troublesome. On June 21st, a suicide bomb occurs in a mosque in eastern Baghdad, in Baladiyat, killing 7 and injuring more than 20 Shia civilians. Although Iraq was going through a period of relative calm, attacks on Shia civilians continued. Before June, another suicide bombing occurs in the capital.
The violations in Lebanon differ from the ones elsewhere. Lebanon has long established itself as a multicultural nation. On June 26, on the town of Hadath, which is southeast of Beirut, a Shia Muslim couple was denied their right to rent a property. The property owner told the couple that the law was established by Hadath’s officials, prohibiting Muslims to rent or buy from a Christian property. Orders are that only Christians are allowed to buy or rent those properties. It is important to note that Hadath is on the edge of an area known as Dahiyeh, Beirut’s densely populated Shia area, and those who seek to reside in Hadath are Shia.
This incident was the only one publicly announced, but it has become more and more common for that to happen in other Lebanese cities, which should not be tolerated.
Just like in Bahrain, Shia religious figures have been subject to terrible treatment. The Nigerian Shia Sheikh and his wife were wrongly imprisoned four years ago and had no access to medical treatment. The supreme court released him long ago, but they continue to keep him in jail, which is extremely illegal. A lack of medical treatment led the Sheikh to lose an eye and almost the other, aggravated by a heart condition that needs immediate treatment.
Later in June, according to members of the Islamic Movement, the same spiritual leader was poisoned. An investigation revealed that high concentrations of lead and cadmium were found in his blood. It is atrocious that his health was allowed to deteriorate in this manner. The activists believe that the administration aimed to “covertly assassinate him while in custody.”
It is imperative that measures are taken to, not only prevent these incidents from happening but also to bring justice to the cleric and his family.
Pakistan violations were not much different from other countries and in previous years.
At the beginning of June, radicals slaughtered a Shia civilian. Two men were arrested and the government, according to Shia Waves, claims to respond to Shia demands for security. Although, many Pakistani Shia have been a target with assassinations and terrorist bombings. Following this incident, a few days later, two other Shia were killed in an explosion, and many were injured. Later that day, another explosion took place, and three others were killed in the same city of Ziarat.
Later in June, an elderly Shia, while returning from a pilgrimage, was subjected to forced disappearance and taken into custody by the police for no apparent reason.
Saudi Arabia has been a hotbed of contentious points and violations against the Shia community, especially considering the execution of nearly 37 Shia individuals back in April. June proves to serve no exception to this, with the execution of 18-year-old Murtaja Qureiris being the primary topic of concern. Qureiris was charged on various counts of “terrorism,” “anti-governmental” speech, throwing Molotov cocktails at police stations, firing at security forces, and one for attending his brother’s funeral who died in a protest dating back to 2011.
The majority of these allegations occurred when Qureiris was just ten years old. Qureiris was detained with his family in 2014 en-route to Bahrain. Since then, he’s been arrested and held in a juvenile detention center in the city of Dammam where he was then subsequently denied access to a lawyer until August of 2018.
During his arrest, his interrogators beat him senseless and promised to release him on the grounds that he confessed to the “crimes” he committed. He is not slated to be executed any time soon due to the overturning of the death sentence, but the fact that he could’ve been executed on the basis of activities he “partook” in at just ten years old goes to show the glaring flaws and biases present in Saudi Arabia’s penal system.
Detentions still seem to be prevalent throughout the land. Female Shia political activist Nassimah Al-Sadeh remains behind bars despite not having a single charge to her name, much less one worth an arrest. Al-Sadeh is being subjected to solitary confinement after a protest organized with other activists back in December of 2018 in an attempt to raise prisoner morale.
Saudi Arabia is known for subjecting its detainees and prisoners to various forms of torture. By detaining Al-Sadeh for this period of time, Saudi Arabia violates its penal code which dictates that one cannot be held in pre-trial detention for more than six months. Al-Sadeh has been detained for nearly nine months and is still lacking access to a fair trial.
These apparent violations of both international and domestic laws, as well as the blatant disregard for human rights displayed by Saudi Arabia, cannot continue if we wish to foster hope for a more equitable world.
SRW invites all countries to respect human rights of Shia Muslims as this population has proven to only participate in peaceful activities. We also urge all governments to free all prisoners and return any seized belongings.