Incidents of Anti-Shiism, November 2020

Prejudice, discrimination, and violence against Shia Muslims is an issue of international proportion.  In the month of November, activists and grassroots organizations from the nations of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia reported Anti-Shiism as covered in this report. 

Shia Rights Watch notes that this report covers quantifiable incidents of direct violence and requires recognition that systemic and cultural Anti-Shiism exists in greater dimensions. 

Afghanistan

Kabul has been home to frequent terror attacks. 

Early in the month, tens were killed, and dozens were injured in a bombing of the University of Kabul in advance of government officials’ arrival. At 11 am, a group of assailants entered the university and, upon arrival, killed bystanders and took numerous students as hostages. The gunmen detonated explosive devices, and 32 students were killed, and 50 others were injured. 

Soon after, a shoot-off with security forces was claimed by ISIL-Khorasan. 

The University of Kabul is home to a student body of 22,000 and one of Afghanistan’s largest higher education institutions.  

On the 21st of the month, a mortar attack targeted Shia residences in Khair Khaneh and Shahrenu of western Kabul. The attack resulted in 3 deaths and the injury of 20 others, many of whom were women and children. 

Days later, on the 25th of November, a double suicide bombing in central Bamiyan resulted in the death of 30 and injury of 50 civilians. Bamiyan is a predominantly Shia Hazara town. 

Bahrain

The persecution of activist and Shia clerics in the Kingdom of Bahrain persists. In the month of November, 38 Shia individuals were arrested. Among those arrested are Salman Radhi, Qasim Ali, Ahmed Abdel Jalil, Sayed Fadel Said Abbas, Jaafar Sadiq, Syed Muhammad Salem, Syed Ali Makki, 7, Sayed Mustafa Sayed Muhammad, Mustafa Abdel Aziz Saud, Hamid al-Fardan, Yasser Nasser, Musa Saeed Hilal, Ahmed Musa, Mr. Ahmed Haidar, Abdullah Al-Sayed Muhammad,  Ibrahim Al-Shamlan 16, Hoor Yaqoub al-Ajami, Taha al-Sayed Jalal, Ahmen al-Wadi, Muhammad Tawfiq al-Ghazal, Imad Muhammad Jawad, Ali Hamza Mubarak,  Yousef Zayer Ali, Cleric Shiekh Ibrahim al-Ansari, Ali Attia, Qasim Abdul-Hussein Al-Alwani, Suleiman Ali Al-Baqali, Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Baqali, Ahmad Abbas Mushaima, Mr. Abdullah Al-Gharifi, Hussein Abdullah Marhoun,  Muhammad Al-Sayed Jaafar in addition to 4 females for grievances posted on social media. The arrests followed home raids in the towns of Diraz, Al-Musalla, Abu Saiba, Aali, Karana, al-Suqiya, Sahla, Karkazan, and Manama. 

Shia Rights Watch notes the basis for arrest for the aforementioned stand counter to the freedom of speech as the majority of cases are based on participation in the religious congregation and/ or expression of grievances against limitations in basic rights. 

Iraq

Anti-Shia violence rocked cities all over Iraq as ISIS gains traction amidst Coronavirus-related reductions in security. Shia Muslims in the cities of Baghdad, Samarra, Kirkuk, Amerli, Sadr City, and Karbala faced violence motivated by hate. 

Targeted attacks by gunmen are frequent occurrences in Baghdad. Early in the month, unidentified assailants fired a concealed weapon east of Baghdad, killing a civilian.  Across the month, 4 other individuals were found dead. 

Later on the 11th of the month, a disposed of body was found near the town square in al-Husayniya. The deceased showed signs of torture and suffocation. On the same day in Al-Hurriya, gunmen targeted an individual severely injuring him.  

The detonation of a bomb by ISIS assailants at a security checkpoint led to the death of security guards on the 9th of the month. 

Located 78 miles north of Baghdad, Samarra is home to the Askari Shrine and burial site of numerous descendants of Prophet Mohammad, two being Imams. In 2006 and then again in 2007 the Askari Shrine was bombed inciting outcry from the international Shia Muslim population. 

On the 9th of the month, an explosion in the city of Kirkuk killed two and wounded six others. An approximate 60% of the Kirkuk population is Shia Muslims. Despite the demographic, Shia in Kirkuk face frequent and systematic anti-Shiism as officials announced the growth of the Shia population as “Shia–ization” of the city. 

Late in the month, an attack on a village west of Karbala killed three civilians and one security guard. The attack was claimed by ISIS. Karbala is considered a holy site for Shia Muslims and is the destination of millions of annual visitors. 

Pakistan

Quetta, located in Southwest Pakistan, is a city dense with Shia Muslims, namely the Hazara ethnicity. Because of it’s Shia heavy population, Quetta is home to frequent attacks motivated by anti-Shia sentiments. On the 13th of November, an explosion targeting a police car detonated, injuring five people. 

A day later, a religious site ascribed to Imam Ali was charged by  Taliban-affiliated assailants. While no deaths have been reported, numerous attendees were injured. Shia Rights Watch notes the purpose of such an attack may not have been to kill, but to deter attendance to the religious site. Religious congregations and communal expression are central to the Shia faith, and extremist organizations target such practices to reduce spiritual practice participation. 

Another incident targeting Shia religious sites occurred on the 27th of the month when Sipah Sahaba assailants demolished Shia Mosque in the Sargodha district of Sahiwal tehsil. The demolishing occurred at night. 

In addition to attacking Shia-prominent areas of the country, Shia Muslims in positions of power are targeted and killed. In November, the Southern Union leader in Balochistan was killed upon leaving a mosque in Pashin village. Later in the month, Zafar Abbas was shot by extremist individuals. 

Saudi Arabia

Raids of al-AwamiKirkuk’s continorities suppress its minority Shia Muslim population. 

Located in Eastern Province, one of the countries most oil-rich provinces, Awamiya is home to Saudi authorities’ systemic targeting. Frequent raids and unlawful arrests by forces leave residents even more marginalized than any other measure of discrimination by national authorities. 

In November, four Shia Muslims were arrested. The arrested were: Sheikh Abbas Al-Saeed,  Mr.  Khader al-Awami, Wassim al-Nimr, and Zaki Abu Abdullah. 

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