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Letter to Embassies Regarding Moharram

Today Shia Rights Watch sent a letter to 177 embassies, to mark the beginning of the month of Muharram. The letter explains the importance of the month to Shia Muslims and need to protect these communities as they commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali.


Honorable Ambassador,

We at Shia Rights Watch are dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of Shia Muslims globally. We are writing to bring to your attention the importance of the month of Muharram to the Shia populations in your country as well as the need to protect these communities.

Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, is a significant month for Shia Muslims as they commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, in 680 CE in the Battle of Karbala. Muharram rituals are significant to the community as they symbolize Shia opposition to discrimination and oppression. The community honors this month by wearing black attire and attending seminars, lectures and special prayer services.

Sadly the world witnesses the brutal murder of scores of Shia worshippers as the peacefully commemorate this event each year. Shia communities are massacred each year through bombings, assassinations, and other forms of violence. This year we have witnessed intense attacks against Shia in Iraq as ISIS and other affiliated groups have detonated car and suicide bombs in Baghdad and Karbala. Our statistics show that over 7,000 Shia civilians have been killed in Iraq this year alone, with thousands more killed in different countries around the world.

This year our extensive research demonstrates that both Shia centers and spiritual leaders have already received threatening letters in anticipation of the month of Muharram.

SRW believes that respect and protection of religious freedom is the key to peaceful coexistence and mutual respect. We call upon all governments to respect the rights of their citizens and protect their lives and property.

This year, SRW invites and urges all governments and authority figures to:

  • Respect Shia practices during this special month.
  • Implement security plans that enable Shia to participate in their rituals without fear,
  • Remember that Muharram rituals are not political movement, but rather religious and spiritual.

Shia Muslims hail from a multitude of nations, are not dependent on any political group or government, and need to be granted their religious freedom and protection to practice their faith.

May the Muharram of 2014 be a peaceful month in which we all practice living in harmony and mutual respect.

SRW thanks you for your help in keeping all of your citizens safe.


Mustafa Akhwand

Director of SRW


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