Last Friday on November 13th we reported on the deadly bombing at the Shia mosque that killed dozens of people. In addition to this bombing, there was a roadside bomb at a Shia shrine in Sadr city which killed at least 5 people and wounded 15. No group has formally taken responsibility for this attack but it is widely believed that ISIS carried out these attacks as well since they occurred just hours within the mosque bombing which they took responsibility for.
A week after the previously mentioned bombings, another suicide and roadside bombing occurred in Baghdad. On Friday November 20th a roadside bomb was detonated outside of a Shia mosque in the Nahiyet al-Rasheed neighborhood of Southern Baghdad during Friday prayers. Soon after that, a suicide bomber detonated themselves inside the mosque. Official reports state 10 people were killed and 10 were wounded. While no group has claimed responsibility for this attack, this is eerily similar to ISIS facilitated attacks in Baghdad last week. Shia Rights Watch condemns these attacks and urges the Iraqi security forces do more to ensure the safety of innocent worshipers.
In Indonesia announcements of the creation of an anti-Shia alliance reverberated around the country. The so called Anti-Shia National Alliance (Annas) declared an anti-Shia movement in West Java. This announcement has come on the heels of various incidents of anti-Shia protests and mild violence has been present around the country, especially in East Java. Earlier this year in East Java, Shia Muslims who were displaced were hindered from returning to their homes by residents of the town of Sampanng. Leaders of the country’s two largest Muslim organizations have condemned the creation of this new movement, stating that this is going hamper ongoing reconciliation efforts. Shia Rights Watch urges the government of Indonesia to do more to ensure that hateful rhetoric does not materialize into violence.
In Karachi, Pakistan yet another assassination occurred in a Shia neighborhood.
November 16th two policemen deployed to a security checkpoint at the Ismaili Shia community’s residential complex were shot and killed by unknown gunmen. Ali Raza, 50, and Ghulam Jaffer, 46, were shot by four armed gunmen on motorcycles and were pronounced dead at the scene. Reports stated that there have been 79 policemen murdered in Karachi this year alone. While the gunmen weren’t identified, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility. Unfortunately, like many of these attacks, investigations have been unsuccessful. Shia Rights Watch condemns this horrendous attack and urges the Pakistani security forces to continue their investigation into this murder and the hundreds more that occurred in Karachi this year.
In the eastern city of Qatif, a Saudi Police officer was shot and killed in the majority Shia neighborhood of Saihat. This attack occurred on November 18th and further details have yet to be released. While no group has claimed responsibility for this attack, this has been the site of numerous ISIS inspired and facilitated attacks.
On November 16th two policemen deployed to a security checkpoint at the Ismaili Shia community’s residential complex were shot and killed by unknown gunmen. Izzatullah and Muhammad Hussain were travelling in a van from the city center of Quetta to their home in a suburban Hazara town when two unidentified gunmen open fired on their vehicle. Izzatullah was killed at the scene while Muhammad died on his way to the hospital.
Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions taken by these militants against the Hazara community and calls for the Pakistani government to immediately investigate this murder.
In Afghanistan, the continuous murders of Shia Hazaras sparked massive protests in Kabul on November 11th. Thousands of protestors marched throughout West Kabul with coffins carrying the decapitated bodies of seven Shia Hazaras, including several women and children.
“This is a protest to demand justice for the victims who were so mercilessly murdered, we demand justice for people who are being brutally killed by terrorists every day”- Mohammad Hadi, Hazara protestor.
Shia Rights Watch stands with the Shia Hazara community as they demand justice for the wave of terrorist violence that has ravaged their community.
On November 11th a criminal court in Bahrain sentenced a Shia opposition figure to two years in prison on the basis of his political affiliation. Majeed Milad received this sentence for a speech he gave in which he expressed his opinion about political reconciliation between his party (al-Wefaq) and the government.
The sentencing of Majeed Milad is part of an ongoing campaign by the Bahraini government to stamp out any political dissent in the country. Basic civil and political rights have been violated by the regime and this has largely happened without any substantial condemnation from the international community. Shia Rights Watch condemns the arrests of political prisoners and demands the immediate reversal of his sentence and the release of all political prisoners.
Iraq has seen the continuation of senseless violence directed against Shia communities around the country. On Friday November 13th bombings targeting Shia communities in Baghdad killed at least 15 people. One such attack was a suicide bombing inside the Al-Ashara al-Mubashareen mosque during a funeral. This attack killed 13 people and wounded 33.
The second attack occurred in Sadr City where two roadside bombs were detonated near a Shia place of worship, killing at least 2 people and wounding nine.
No group has yet to take responsibility for these attacks but these attacks closely resemble those perpetrated by ISIS.
In an attack which rocked the country, a suicide bombing in a Shia suburb of Beirut killed at least 37 people and wounded 181 on November 12th. Two suicide bombers detonate themselves on a busy street in the Burj al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut. Local media sources are saying this is the deadliest bombing in the country since the conclusion of its civil war which ended in 1991.
ISIS has taken responsibility for this attack but this claim has yet to be independently verified. Burj al-Barajneh is being referred to as a Hezbollah stronghold but it is clear that this indiscriminate attack in an area with a large civilian presence was not merely an attack on Hezbollah but an attack on Shia Muslims. This attack mirrors the vicious attacks ISIS perpetrates in Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
Shia Rights Watch strongly condemns this brutal attack and calls on the Lebanese government to ensure the protection of religious groups within their borders.
On November 3rd Shia Rights Watch attended the UNHCR High-Level event on the importance of nationality in today’s world. In addition to the UNHCR, this event was jointly hosted by the Permanent Missions of Brazil, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Cote d’Ivore, and the United States.
Attendees included numerous delegates and NGOs from around the world and the high level panel included speakers such as Antonio Gutierrez who is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and a former Prime Minister of Portugal.
High Commissioner conveyed his office’s plan to eradicate statelessness in 10 years. This process could be achieved through four steps: states should grant nationality for those born in their territory who would otherwise become stateless, grant women the right to pass nationality to their children in the same way fathers can, eradicating the discrimination of grating nationalities on basis of race religion and other categories, and lastly universal birth registration.
Also in attendance was Jirair Chichian who is Armenian young man who was born in Russia just after the fall of the Soviet Union has been stateless his entire life and has be unable to be afforded the rights of his peers. While an avid Greco-Roman wrestler, he has been unable to travel with his wrestling team around Europe since he doesn’t have a passport. He was only able to get to New York City because he received travel documents from UNHCR.
Addressing the concerns of statelessness people needs to become a primary concern of the international community because it has been utilized by states to bolster campaigns of discrimination. Groups such as the Rohingya in Myanmar and Shia Muslims in the Middle East have been either denied citizenship or not afforded the full rights of citizens in the countries they live in. In its most extreme uses, the denial of citizenship can be a form of ethnic and religious cleansing. To echo the words of Ambassador Antionio Patriota who is the Ambassador of Brazil to the United Nations, in a world composed of States, to have stateless people is both an anomaly and a source of unnecessary discrimination.
The issue with statelessness has come to the attention of the international community during the Syrian refugee crisis. During this crisis, hundreds of thousands of Syrian men, women and children have faced harrowing conditions to seek refuge in Europe. During this process, thousands have perished at land and sea and many have faced persistent discrimination throughout Europe.
Being stateless means that many protections are not afforded to them thus leaving them vulnerable to things such as education deprivation and economic exploitation. Without proof of citizenship and residence, children cannot register for schools and entire families often find their movement restricted by states.
Shia Rights Watch urges the international community to respect and ensure the protection of the rights of stateless people. While many policymakers acknowledge the need to address the root causes of this migration, it is necessary that those same policymakers ensure that these refugees are protected while they are away from home. Conflicts and other hardships that are not the fault of these refugees and migrants should not be held against them.
In Bahrain the disregard for the rule of law by the Al-Khalifa regime continues as a Bahraini court revoked the citizenship of five Shia Muslims under charges of spying for Iran on November 5th. Officially the Bahraini court charged them with “spying for and seeking with Iran and its agents to carry out hostile acts against the kingdom”. These alleged attacks were supposedly directed at public facilities and banks.
Shia Rights Watch disputes the claims made by the Bahraini authorities and the sentence handed down to the men. Two of the five Shia Muslims who were on trial appeared in court on November 5th and stated that they were forced to confess under torture. Any confession made under duress cannot be considered valid. In addition to the violation of the right to a fair trial which in enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights, torture is a human rights violation as stated in the two previously named documents. Shia Rights Watch demands the immediate release of the Shia detained under these charges and demands that these charges are dropped.
On the same day that the previous life in prison sentences were handed down, Bahrain’s First High Criminal court sentenced 22 Shia Muslims to three years in prison over the peaceful demonstrations that occurred in Sitra in September. The court claimed that the defendants assaulted, in conjunction with other unknown suspects, a policeman and threatened to use violence to threaten public security.
Many of the claims made by the Bahraini authorities have yet to be substantiated. On the other hand, the excessive use of force by Bahraini Security Forces is well documented. Beatings and shootings of protestors have been documented by many human rights organizations, and the excessive use of tear gas was documented by Shia Rights Watch last year. Lastly the independence of the judiciary remains an issue of scrutiny. Shia Rights Watch demands the release of these activists immediately.
Yet another Shia business owner was shot and killed in Pakistan this week. On November 5th, terrorists from Ahl e Sunnat wal Jjama’at shot and killed shopkeeper Sadiq Ali in Quetta. Ali, who owns a mechanic shop, was shot in the head and sustained critical injuries before dying at the scene. Haji Muhammad Sadiq Ali was 66 years old and leaves behind a son and two daughters. The gunmen are still on the run and have yet to be identified. Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions committed by these terrorists and urges the Pakistani government to devote the necessary resources to investigating this crime.
Twenty Shia Muslims of the 50 who were detained on the 20th of Muharram in Islamabad were released on bail. The detainees were arrested during a Muharram procession which the local authorities did not sanction. This has been denounced as unjust as anti-Shia groups have been able to engage in processions in the city under the protection of the authorities. Shia Rights Watch demands the release of the remaining detainees and that the charges against them be dropped. This procession is an expression of the freedom of religion for Shia Muslims and it must be respected.
Ministry of Public Health in Eastern Province announced open investigation for a Shia employee of a Hospital in Demam area.
A Shia Muslim custodian of the Women and Children Hospital in Eastern Province is under investigation after her phone prayer call application recited Shia call to prayer. Ministry speak person stated they will announce her punishment after investigation in over.
Shia Muslim of Saudi Arabia have always been discriminated against. In fact many are unemployed due to systematic employment discrimination. Shia Rights Watch in concerned for the employment security of this female employee. This NGO urges the Ministry of Health to respect freedom of religion of its employees.
In addition to the scores of targeted bombings in Shia neighborhoods in Iraq, ISIS has blown up a number of houses belonging to displaced Shia Shabak Kurds in the village of Bazwaya which is east of Mosul on November 5th. At least 13 houses were bombed by the group but no human casualties were reported. The situation on the grown for Kurds and Shia has been rapidly deteriorating as efforts to stop the terrorist group have stalled. Shia Rights Watch calls on the enhanced protection of vulnerable religious and ethnic groups in or near ISIS held territory.
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.
On October 29th, Shia Rights Watch attended the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner’s event on Illicit Financial Flows, Human Rights and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The crux of this event was to disseminate information and spur dialogue about UN efforts to significantly reduce illicit financial flows by 2030. This presentation included numerous high-level UN personnel as well as representatives from dozens of NGOs.
The reduction of illicit financial flows is a key element of reducing terrorism and anti-Shiism. Illicit financial flows through activities such as the arms trade and the drug trade have funded terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS which routinely attack Shia Muslims. International illicit financial networks have allowed for these groups to draw from multiple sources to fund their attacks and their dissemination of anti-Shia rhetoric.
Illicit financial flows also weaken the responses of governments with anti-Shia violence within their borders. Mr. Juan Pablo Bohoslasvky, the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, spoke about a report that shows a strong positive relationship between the amount of illicit financial flows and the amount of corruption within a country. The more rampant illicit financial flows are in a country, the more corrupt that government will be. This corruption will, for example, slow the responsiveness of a country’s government to shootings and bombings that occur.
Shia Rights Watch repeatedly criticize the responsiveness to numerous countries to anti-Shia violence in their territory and those countries have long records of both corruption and illicit financial flows. Last month the United Nations adopted the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals as a part of the Post-2015 development agenda, and a large aspect of this agenda is the reduction of these illicit financial flows. Cracking down on the arms trade, the drug trade, tax dodging, and other unethical practices will be the most effective way that the international community can combat terrorism at its formation.
On Tuesday October 27th an Ismaili Mosque was bombed, killing one person and injuring at least a dozen others in the southern Saudi town of Najran. This ISIS perpetrated attack occurred days after an ISIS gunman killed five people and injured nine others during an Ashura event in the eastern Saudi city of Saihat.
Muharram has been one of the deadliest times to be a Shia Muslim as terrorist groups use the gatherings this month as an opportunity to initiate attacks against the worshippers. Despite the regularity of these attacks, Shia worshippers continue to stand strong and not let this ever present threat of violence interfere with their worship.
Shia Rights Watch stands with the victims of this senseless violence and calls for greater protection for Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia and around the world.
Over this past week in Iraq, roughly 62 Shia Muslims were killed in bombings and shootings around the country. These bombings during Muharram targeted groups of Shia Muslims in Baghdad in Markets and at Shrines. One of the larger attacks occurred on Monday.
On Monday October 26th a man wearing a suicide belt detonated himself near a tent serving refreshments to Shia pilgrims in Baghdad. The pilgrims at the time were commemorating the death of Imam Hussein in the city when this attack occurred. According to early estimates, between three and seven people were killed with at least 19 injured.
No organization has yet to claim responsibility for the attack but many of the attacks against Shia Muslims during Muharram have been claimed by ISIS. Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions of the group or groups that orchestrated this attack and calls for greater work to be done to ensure that religious gatherings are safe spaces for worshipers.
Jordanian Sheikh Abu Qatada has recently published an article that denounces Shia Muslims and calls them filthy. Published in “Al Risalah”, a magazine that is produced by Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Qatada continues to spread hatred of Shia Muslims.
This magazine is a major propaganda tool for Al-Qaeda to attract foreign fighters to the group. Calling Shia Muslims heretics and enemies, Qatada vows that their movement will dominate every land and wipe every religion off the face of the earth.
It is this hate speech that incites violence against Shia Muslims. These are the roots of the terrorist attacks that the world witnesses every day against Shia Muslims and other religious minorities. Shia Rights Watch strongly condemns the actions of Abu Qatada.
On the morning of Saturday October 24th bombers disguised as Shia mourners detonated themselves at a Shia gathering in the Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. The bomb which was detonated in Hossaini Dalan area of Old Dhaka killed a boy and injured over 100 others. Shia gatherers were preparing for a procession called Tajia Michhil on Nazimuddin Road. There were five bombers and three of the five bombs were detonated.
No group has claimed responsibility but security cameras were present at the gathering so an investigation is currently ongoing to identify the assailants and establish the source of this violence. Shia Rights Watch condemns the horrific actions taken by these assailants against innocent Shia Muslims at a solem event. Bangladesh and Indonesia are not countries were anti-Shiism gets global attention but it is important that these actions are condemned in order that the do not target other communities of Shia.
The commemoration of Ashura was banned in the town of Bogor in West Java. Mayor Bima Arya of Bogor defended his decision to ban the commemoration by saying this was necessary to “keep order and security in the city”. This decision has come under fire from human rights groups stating that this is a violation of the religious expression of Shia Muslims.
In addition to this prohibition, a group in West Java called the West Java Ahlus Sunnah Defenders (PAS) spread banners around the town stating “Shia is a threat to NKRI (Unitary Nation of the Republic of Indonesia)”.
Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions of both the Bogor town administration for banning the practice of Ashura and PAS for the dissemination of anti-Shia rhetoric. It is important that a nation as diverse as Indonesia work to promote tolerance and understanding.
On Sunday October 25th Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the death against Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr whose involvement in pro-democracy protests led to his arrest in 2012. This comes after a long trial that has involved numerous irregularities and an outcry from the international community. At this point, the only domestic remedy for Sheikh Nimr now rests with King Salman who has the authority to issue a pardon.
Sheikh Nimr and six other Shia, including his nephew Ali al-Nimr, are scheduled to be executed and their bodies will be put on public display. International outcry over these death sentences have come from both the East and the West. British Prime Minister David Cameron has worked to intervene in Ali al-Nimr’s case but the kingdom remains defiant.
Shia Rights Watch calls on the international community to urge that King Salman pardon and release Sheikh Nimr, Ali Nimr, and all prisoners of conscience immediately. The international community cannot stand by while a country with a seat on the UN Human Rights Council completely disregards due process and the rule of law in order to punish religious minorities that demand equal rights.
Shia Ashura ritual attacked in Pakistan province of Sindh killing at least 16 and wounded 30 people.
A police official told journalists that the procession was targeted by a suicide bomber. Pakistani government claims they secured the area with more than 10,000 extra police officers yet the suicide bomber could explode the bomb in the middle of the ritual gathering.
Ashura marks the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussain, who was murdered along with his family at the battle of Karbala. Every year hundreds of Shia are killed at Ashura gathering in different counties.
Shia Rights Watch has sent letters to all embassies before the beginning of the Muharram urging governments to secure Muharam gatherings. Yet Shia Muslims of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan has already reported killings and bombing during Ashura rituals.