There was a significant increase in Shia deaths as well as injuries this month compared to the statistics from September. To our surprise there were no recorded arrests or detentions that targeted Shia for their religious beliefs, but four Shia have gone missing in Bahrain. There were nearly 450 Shia deaths, and over 300 injuries this month. The figures average out to more than 14 Shia deaths per day, and more than 10 injuries per day. This month coincides with the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram, when Shia mourn the death of Imam Hussein during this month. On the tenth day of Muharram, otherwise known as Ashura, Shia remember the Battle of Karbala, and mourn the death of Imam Hussein as well as his followers. As a result, Shia are targeted on Ashura and the days leading up to it. Almost all of the countries listed in this report are repeat offenders, but the attacks in Bangladesh, Denmark, and Iran are new to the list.
This report will analyze the data compiled on Shia deaths, injuries, and arrests that occurred between October 1st and October 31st. The data for this report was gathered from a variety of different sources. The most well-known incidents of anti-Shiism were retrieved and reported to Shia Rights Watch by eyewitnesses. Each incident is thoroughly evaluated for both authenticity and relevance. For an incident to be included in this report it has to show clear intent to target Shia Muslims on the basis of religious beliefs. The subsequent sections will present and analyze the data gathered by Shia Rights Watch for October.
Where have Shia Muslims been targeted?
In October, Shia Muslims were victims in 13 countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Denmark, India, and Indonesia. There were a total of 446 Shia deaths, 320 injuries, and 4 abductions this month.
Iraq, Baghdad more specifically, is still the most dangerous place to be Shia as it continues to top the deaths and injuries for the tenth time in a row. Iraq was the target of Ashura attacks like other countries in the report this month, but also had almost daily attacks. 44% of all the attacks in Iraq were bombings, 46% were a combination of methods, and 35 Shia died from mortar attack. The Shia deaths in Iraq have more than doubled from September, and the amount of Shia injured from attacks has only decreased slightly. This could be attributed to one of our news sources in Baghdad ceasing their updates on October 2, 2015.
Pakistan was making great strides in tackling anti-Shiism in recent months, but was hit multiple times as Ashura became closer. There were still the usual terrorist shootings against Shia throughout the month, but the major attacks occurred in Quetta, Balochistan, and Jacobabad. These three bombings took the lives of 42 Shia and injured 63 Shia. Shia Rights Watch condemns the brutal acts committed by the terrorists, and urges the Pakistani government to continue the positive work it has done so far.
An ISIS gunman fired upon a Shia mosque, and killed 5 Shia while injuring 9 more. He had planned to explode himself but was stopped before he could detonate his explosive belt. Beside members of terrorist groups, the Saudi regime is also guilty of anti-Shiism since they raided homes in Awwamiya with troops using rocket propelled grenades and gasoline bombs.
Two Iranian Shia were shot dead in Iran during Ashura commemoration. It took place in Dezful which is a province with a Sunni population which could explain the anti-Shia act. It is surprising that an attack like this could occur in a country that is generally commonly thought to be the homeland for Shia Muslims.
ISIS in Bangladesh planted 3 bombs in the old town area of Dhaka, when 20,000 Shia would be gathered there for Ashura. One Shia died, and 80 Shia were injured as a result of the attack.
Nubl and Zahra saw a missile attack as well as a bombing this month which combined for tow Shia deaths and more than a dozen Shia injuries. There are also reports of ISIS executing a Shia boy with a tank. This is the first time a tank has been utilized to execute a Shia this year, and is an example of how mundane the activity of killing is for ISIS that they have to be creative in their murderous rampage. The numbers recorded from Syria are the bare minimum, because it is difficult to get information in or out of the war torn country. It is especially difficult in Shia towns that are surrounded by ISIS or Al Nusra Front.
Thugs attacked Shia worshippers on their way to Ashura with knives, cutlasses, and iron rods. 32 people were injured and the attackers went on to demolish Shia mosques and Shia homes in Gangre. Nigeria is not always included in every report, but events such as this show that it is going strong there even if it is not always reported. Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions of these terrorists.
During Ashura Shia procession in Copenhagen, a armed man fired into the crowd, no one was reported dead or injured as a result. This is the first time that Denmark is included on the monthly anti-Shiism report.
Throughout the month, there were multiple reports of security forces taking down Ashura banners by force, and clashing with protestors. There were also reports of the regime using terrorist militias to target human rights activists and religious figures. Four Shia from the Darwish family, Mohammad, Qasim, Ibrahim, Ismail, were abducted by a quasi-military group this month, and have not been heard from since.
Several injured as result of clash between protesters and government forces following troop attempt to bring down Ashura banners; forces used bullets, gas to disperse protestors.
Increased torture and assault on prisoners of conscience in conjunction with day of Ashura, including slapping of faces, being forced to stand for long periods of time, having cold water were also reported.
ISIS targeted a Shia Ashura gathering in Kabul which resulted in the death of one person and the wounding of 3 others. Shia of Afghanistan have very low profile due to fear associated with being Shia Muslims, yet they have been target of anti-Shiism for long time and in Muharram such human rights violations increases in this country as it does in other countries.
Salafi groups in Cairo threaten to kill Shia Muslims for celebrating Ashura, and called for the closing of Shia mosques on the sacred day. Egyptian authorities also warn of arrest for commemorating Ashura. It is alarming that the Egyptian government is not to too far off in their message from the terrorist groups in Egypt, and Shia Rights Watch condemns these messages.
The Mayor of Bogor denounced Shia as heretics and decided to ban Shia from celebrating the Muslim holy day of Ashura. The ban did not apply to Sunnis and the hate speech violates Indonesia’s Constitution. It is disappointing to see a government official making anti-Shia statements, and there needs to be a leader who is willing to stand up for Shia in Indonesia.
Hundreds of Shia traveled to Jahangir Chowk from Shaheed Gunk for Muharram, and were met with tear gas deployed by paramilitary forces. Muharram processions were banned in Srinagar since the Kashmir dispute in the late 80s, and Shia Rights Watch urges the Indian authorities to make peace with their Muslim neighbors.
Anti-Shiism is spreading and on the rise in many countries. It is up to the international community and everyday individuals to oust the prejudice and misinformation when the governments of these countries cannot bring themselves to do so. Shia Rights Watch condemns the acts committed against Shia Muslims around the world, and urges the authorities to take action and protect this minority in their home lands.