Welcome to Shia Rights Watch

Home Blog Page 9

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in September, 2019

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in September 2019

The month of September corresponded with the holy month of Muharram. Shia Rights Watch took special attention towards violence that targeted Shia Muslims in their religious congregations. A special report that highlighted acts of violence in the first ten days of the Holy month can be found here

Pro-Shia Rights 

In addition to highlighting violence against Shia Muslims in the month of Muharram, Shia Rights Watch notes actions taken by national governments to protect Shia Muslims and Shia rituals. 

In Sri Lanka, Colombo authorities increased security around Shia religious centers upon information of nationalist groups planning to disrupt Shia processions. The identified groups were given restraining orders by Colombos Magistrate court.  More information on Sri Lanka’s efforts to protect Shia rights can be found here

In Pakistan, authorities increased health and security services in cities dense with Shia populations. Across Pakistan, approximately 40,000 forces were enlisted to protect Shia rituals. Traffic was lead away from areas that were home to Shia Centers, and such regions were secured with national security forces. More information on the protection of Shia rights in Pakistan can be found here

Shia Rights Watch and communication recognized the two nations was made with their embassies in acknowledgment of measures taken to protect Shia rights.  


Within the first ten days of September, an approximated 30 Shia clerics, reciters and program leaders were summoned and arrested by Bahraini authorities. The arrests came after authorities gave warning of increased restrictions to congregations and public expression. Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa announced crackdowns against Muharram commemorations.  He stated that Manama’s security services would be ‘monitoring’ the worshipers and that “raising slogans or pictures of religious or political figures or foreign parties … will not be allowed.” 

Names of those arrested and detained can be found on SRW report specific to violence during the first ten days of Muharram. 

Restrictions were even more enforced in detainment centers. Many identified reciters were separated from general crowds and place in solitary confinement. The general population was told they could only congregate between the hours of 7 to 9 pm. 

Later in the month, accounts of torture were released by the family of Hussain al-Sahlawi who has been detained since 2012. Authorities at Bahraini detention centers have on multiple occasions used torture as a means of extracting forced false confessions. 

Other detainees are restricted in their communication rights. Osama Al-Saghir has reportedly been deprived of his communication privileges for refusing to end his hunger strike.

Al-Saghir was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison after being arrested at a peaceful sit-in outside the home of Bahrain’s highest religious authority Sheikh Isa Qassim. Al-Saghir is one of over 600 detainees on a hunger strike. Hunger strike participants have taken a stand against lacking medical attention and subpar conditions in detention centers. 

Saudi Arabia

Specialized Criminal Court Saudi Arabia has sentenced Shia cleric and human rights activist Sheikh Mohammed al-Habib to 12 years in prison and imposed a five years travel ban on him which will be carried out after his term. Sheikh Habib was recently released after three years of arbitrary detention. 

Seven of those 12 years are based on alleged violations to a legal pledge. Five years of his sentence is part of a second case that punishes his support of protestors. 

The case of al-Habib is yet again another example of the lack of real reform by Kings Mohammad bin Salman. 


The nature of minority groups makes them the most vulnerable in detriments of conflict. 

Shia Muslims in Kashmir faced particular restrictions by the enforcement of Indian-led security forces. In attempts to quell possible political rallies, authorities announced a curfew and a ban on the congregation. Shia neighborhoods were warned of arrests on the day before Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram). Ongoing processions were met with violence that resulted in the injury of 12 locals. 


The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) called on the people of Malaysia in advance of Muharram to “always remain vigilant upon the spread of [Shia] deviant teachings in this nation…The Muslim Ummah must become the eyes and the ears for the religious authorities when stumbling upon activities that are suspicious, disguising under the pretext of Islam.” 

The JAIS is funded by one of the most wealthy states in Malaysia and has largely unchecked powers. On September 8, 23 Muharram program attendees in Gombak were taken to the Islamic Complex and told to denounce their beliefs. Those taken were released with warnings of re-arrest.  Among those taken were women and children. 

Shia Rights Watch notes that anti-Shia broadcasts have to lead to a cascade of anti-Shia sentiment which could endanger all religious and ethnic minorities in Malaysia. Moreover, the lack of government intervention against anti-Shiism signals approval of violent actions against minority groups. 


Restrictions against the Shia population continue in Nigeria as forces attacked Shia processions in four different states. The mourning processions consisted of mourners peacefully chanting condemnation against those who propagated violence against Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad.  The attacks lead to the death of 12 and the injury of numerous others. 


Sheikh Mu’ayad Musawi, religious clergy, a doctoral student of Islamic Studies at the University of Baghdad and a father of four, was killed by gunshot in the outskirts of Baghdad. Musawi was invited to a supposed congregation by the phone. He was killed upon arrival by unknown gunmen. 

The identity of the assailants has yet to be discovered. Shia Rights Watch worries of an increase in isolated assassinations that target supporters of Shia Muharram programs. 


Arbaeen Advisory


The occasion of Arbaeen marks the forty-day anniversary of the martyrdom of Hussain, son of Ali, and grandson of the Prophet Mohammad on the day of Ashura. Every year, millions of Shia and non-Shia from all over the world travel to the holy city of Karbala, Iraq to the shrine of Hussain to renew their vows against the violations of human rights and pledge support for world peace.  Following the traditions of Iraqi natives, pilgrims travel on foot. Many walking as little as 80 km from the holy city of Najaf, Iraq. Others travel more than 500 km from cities such as Basra, Iraq. 

With over 30 million travelers, the Arbaeen pilgrimage stands as the third-largest peaceful human gathering. 

On September 24, 2019, the Department of State held an Arbaeen Briefing for pilgrims who travel to Iraq on this occasion.  Among the speakers of the briefing were administrators and advisors of the Office of International Religious Freedom, Office of International Religious Freedom, American Citizen Services,  US Embassy in Iraq,  Transportation Security Administration, and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security.

Within the session, speakers discussed travel advisory for American citizens to the nation of Iraq. More importantly, the briefing made clear the immense need for the involvement of civil organizations in creating tools that can establish security for those who travel to Iraq for Arbaeen. 


With the aims of establishing the safety of Shia pilgrims in Iraq, Shia Rights Watch has initiated multitier projects. In addition to launching inter-organizational and grassroots programs within Iraq, Shia Rights Watch presents the following tips for Arbaeen congregates: 

The first defense against danger is awareness. Recognize risk factors that put you at an increased risk of attack. 

Risk Factors: 

  • Recent trends of violence in Iraq show increased risk for solo travelers, or travelers who are traveling in vacant areas. Shia Rights Watch encourages pilgrims to travel within crowds and avoid remote destinations. 
  • Despite increases in security measures, Southern Iraq is home to fewer terror attacks than Northern cities, namely Baghdad. Pilgrims traveling to and from the Baghdad International Airport (BGW) are encouraged to be on high alert and to avoid unverified transportation and aid individuals. 

Regardless of risk, precautionary measures are always a good idea. Minimize the dangers of possible targeting by being prepared.  

Precautionary Measures: 

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP, https://step.state.gov/step/) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
    •  If you are not a resident of the United States, contact your local authorities for parallel services. If such a service is not provided to you, inquire about the creation of protective services from your authorities. 
  • Make copies of your documents and keep one on your persons at all times. 
  • Commit to memory emergency contact information. Shia Rights Watch encourages pilgrims to memorize and keep on their person contact information of the United States Embassy, the contact information of a trusted individual within Iraq and the contact information of a family or friend within your hometown. 
  • Share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family and update loved ones and co-travelers of your whereabouts. 
  • If you are traveling solo, establish connections with other solo travelers. Share contact information and stay up-to-date on each other’s travel itinerary. 

Shia Rights Watch reinforces compliance with the security requirement and travel advisories of national governments. Travelers are encouraged to contact the Department of State or their national embassies to gain more information on ways to increase safety in their Arbaeen pilgrimage. 

In the event difficulties are encountered while participating in the pilgrimage, pilgrims are advised to contact their home country’s embassy and relevant authorities first, but also remember that trusted SRW  are on-call to give additional advocacy support.

In the event of an emergency, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad can be contacted here by travelers or their loved ones.


Anti-Shiism in Muharram 2019

Shia Muslims spend the first ten days of the holy month of Muharram in ritual mourning commemorating the death of Hussain, son of Ali, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.  

Muharram rituals are central to the Shia faith. The nature of these rituals make this population highly visible, and thus, Shia Muslims are particularly vulnerable in this month. Previous to the beginning of this holy month, Shia Rights Watch published its annual Muharram Advisory. The advisory targets Shia Muslims and national and international authorities with guidelines that can reduce human rights violations. The Muharram 2019 Advisory can be found here

The first ten days of Muharram are notably dense in Shia commemorative events. The majority of anti-Shia targeting can be anticipated in these ten days. Within this document, Shia Rights Watch has compiled anti-Shia incidents in this duration. 

This report is an immediate notice of anti-Shia violence in the first ten days of Muharram. Anti-Shiism presented in this report are reports made to Shia Rights Watch in response to the organizational advisory published in advance of the Holy month. 

A retrospective look into human rights violations against Shia Muslims highlights the dominating role of national authorities in anti-Shiism. Shia Rights Watch has found that anti-Shia actions have been mainly in the hands of authorities. In contrast to previous years, attacks in the hands of extremist groups or individuals have been limited to Iraq.  


In Bahrain, authorities escalated limitations on congregation and arrested leaders of Muharram rituals. On September 4th, the Interior Minister of Bahrain, Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa, announced crackdowns against Muharram commemorations.  He stated that Manama’s security services would be ‘monitoring’ the worshipers and that “raising slogans or pictures of religious or political figures or foreign parties … will not be allowed.”

A vast number of clerics, reciters, and religious leaders were summoned, in some cases arrested over their participation in Muharram-related events. 

Among those summoned are: 

Sheikh Isa Al-Moemen and Sheikh Mohammad Ali Al-Mahfouz, Sheikh Zuheir Al-Khal, Sayed Jaber Al-Shahrkani, Ali Hamadi, Mahdi Sahwan, Sayed Hadi Al-Biladi, Ahmad Al-Owainati, and Abdulla Al-Nouri

Among those arrested are: 

Sheikh Isa Eid, Sheikh Sadiq Rabie, Sheikh Fadhel Al-Zaki, Sheikh Abdulmohsen Mulla Atiya Al-Jamri, Sheikh Mounir Al-Maatouk, Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Ojaimi, Sheikh Hamed Ashour, Sheikh Jaafar Al-Saegh, Mulla Kassim Zainuldin, Mulla Jawad Al-Mirza, Sheikh Mohammad Ali Al-Mahfouz, Sayed Jaber Al-Shahrkani, Sheikh Zuheir Al-Khal as well as Sheikh Isa Al-Moeme,Abdullah Al-Buri, Leaders: heads of “Ansar Al-Haq and Sheikh Hussein Al-Asfour obsequies

Coinciding with the holy month of Muharram, detention centers adopted measures that directly restricted rituals associated with the sacred month. Jaws Prison authorities banned group congregation outside the hours of 7-9 PM. Clerics and suspected encouragers of Muharram rituals were placed in solitary confinement, forbidden even the meager time authorities claimed to allow Shia congregation. 

In response to the increased violence against Shia community leaders, Bahrain’s February 14 Youth Coalition called for rallies and increased attendance to Muharram programs as a show of solidarity against anti-Shiism. 

Al-Wefaq called on Manama to stop “ abhorrent sectarian behavior” Sheikh Hussein al-Daihi, the Deputy Secretary-General of al-Wefaq stated:

 “The regime’s targeting of clerics, preachers, and eulogy reciters, in addition to attacking some Ashura manifestations is a heinous crime not less than that committed by the tyrant of Iraq (former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) when he bombed the Dome of Imam Al-Hussein shrine. Those who insist on targeting Ashura every year should remember the fate of all tyrants who fought Imam Al-Hussein and failed and were followed by the curse of history.”

Sources report that restrictions in Shia practices specific to Muharram have incited action in support of Shia rights. Bahraini authorities aimed to quell activism and the diffusion of humanitarian sentiment in Muharram programs by arresting religious reciters and banning large congregations. Contrary to their goals, however, actions taken by authorities have encouraged more support for human rights efforts. 


Indian- Led Kashmir

Shia Muslims have become the target of restrictions amidst conflict in Kashmir. At the beginning of the holy month of Muharram, India announced a ban on all gatherings in the Shia-dominated district of Srinagar. Officials called the restrictions on religious expression as “precautions” to political rallies.

In anticipation of Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram, a curfew was put in place. On Sunday, September 8, police vans fitted with loudspeakers announced curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar’s city center Lal Chowk and adjacent areas, including Rainawari and Badgam. Clashes that aimed to thwart ongoing processions resulted in the injury of more than 12 locals. 

Sources report that a number of mourners have been arrested in confrontations resulting from enforcement of curfews. 

The history of Shia Islam in Kashmir reaches back to the late 660 AD under the Umayyad Dynasty when many Shia Muslims fled prosecution. The religion gained visibility in 1372 AD under the teachings of Sayyid Ali Hamedani, who had traveled to Kashmir with over 700 Shia individuals. The belief gained even more traction under Mir Shamsu-din Araqi in 1481. By 1505 AD, Shiism had been adopted by King of the Shah Mir Dynasty based in Kashmir and the Chak clan native to the area.  



On Friday, September 6, religious authorities in Selangor asked mosques to call in sermons on their congregations to be vigilant over the spread of Shia Islam. The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) said in a weekly sermon that Muslims should not be influenced by the practices of Shia Islam. The weekly sermon is broadcasted nationally and serves as a template for smaller, community-based sermons all over Malaysia.

The department stated on its website:

“I implore upon the Muslim ummah (community) to always remain vigilant upon the spread of [Shia] deviant teachings in this nation…The Muslim ummah must become the eyes and the ears for the religious authorities when stumbling upon activities that are suspicious, disguising under the pretext of Islam.” 

In the sermon, Shia Islam and practices were regarded as “extremist.. nauseating” and one which “ensnares its victims.”

Days later, on September 8th, 25 JAIS officers raided a Shia center in Gombak, Malaysia at 9:45 pm and arrested 23 individuals. A large portion of those arrested was minors and women. 

Those arrested were brought to the Islamic complex at Gombak and were told that they were being investigated under shariah law for opposing the fatwa on the practice of Shia Islam.  They were held until 5:00 am but told to denounce Shia practices and that they could be summoned again at any time. 

JAIS is the Islamic religious authority in Selangor. The institution is supported by the States vast economic funds. 

Shia in Malaysia report a lack of acceptance and fear of public practice. Religious institutions on numerous occasions denounced Shia Islam and labeled those that practice the religion as “deviants.” 

Shia Rights Watch notes that anti-Shia broadcasts lead to a cascade of anti-Shia sentiment which could endanger all religious and ethnic minorities in Malaysia. Anti-Shiism in Malaysia has hindered peacebuilding efforts across populations. Shia Rights Watch notes that the lack of government intervention into anti-Shia propaganda not only endangers Shia Malaysians, it incites violence that damages non-Shia communities. 



Government forces attacked Ashura processions that commemorated the death of Hussain in four different states, one of which was Kano. The mourners chanted slogans condemning the martyrdom of Hussain and carried with them mourning banners. The attack resulted in the death of 12 and the injury of many others.

Government forces have long perpetrated Anti-Shiism in Nigeria. Extreme violence has been the topic of condemnation by the United Nations and human rights organizations. Little action has been taken by State or National leadership to address anti-Shiism in the hands of authorities. 



A singular attack in Karbala, Iraq stands in contrast to the nations mentioned above in which national authorities were the primary perpetrators of anti-Shiism. 

Sources report a religious clergy and doctoral student of Islamic Studies at the University of Baghdad, Sheikh Mu’ayad Musawi was invited to lead a supposed congregation in the outskirts of Baghdad over the phone. Upon arrival, he was shot by a gunman. It was reported that there was no Muharram congregation and that the clergy was lured to an unpopulated area to be assassinated. Musawi was born in 1985 and was a father to four children. 

Authorities have reported little information about motivations that lead to the perpetuation of the attacks. 

For years, Iraq has faced violence in the hands of extremist such as ISIS, which operate as a group and aim to exterminate the Shia en-mass. This attack was the first of its kind in Iraq.


Shia Rights Watch expresses concern for an increase in the assassination of Shia community leaders by armed gunmen and is working actively to aid investigations in the hands of authorities. 

—-   —-   —-

Shia Rights Watch continues to stand alert to violence that targets Muharram practices in continuation of Muharram. The organization condemns all acts of violence and encourages activism against human rights violations. 

Pakistan: Increased Security in Muharram

Shia Rights Watch expresses gratitude for increased security in Pakistan in deterrence against anti-Shiism on the occasion of Ashura, the 10th of Muharram. Shia Rights Watch recognizes the new measures as a response to protests by Shia Muslims in Pakistan and expresses appreciation on behalf of the international Shia community. 

Across Pakistan, authorities report increased health and security services in areas dense in Shia population, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Islamabad, and Nawabshah. Moreover, authorities have warned against anti-Shia propaganda and hate-inciting publications. 

The Sindh government declared 9th and 10th September (Monday and Tuesday) as public holidays on the occasion of Ashura. More than 69,545 police personnel have been added to provide security for mourners. 

In Karachi, 17,558 officers were enlisted. Moreover, forces will reorganize traffic to reduce congestion.  Jinnah Road was sealed with containers and other barriers and would remain unavailable for routine traffic on 9th and 10th Muharram. Roads joining Saddar Regal Chowk, corridor-3 to Saddar Dawa Khana were also sealed for traffic. The police sealed shops and blocked roads with containers. 

Non-Muharram related congregation and pillion-riding (Motorcycle passengers) were prohibited until after the 10th of Muharram. Such prohibitions were aimed at educing footstep traffic and reducing the feasibility of attacks in the hands of individual perpetrators. In previous years, assailants, both bombers and shooters, fled the scene of attacks by pillion-riding. 

In Hyderabad,  218 mourning processions were declared sensitive and 4,000 policemen were deployed for security on the tenth of Muharram in addition to the Rangers. A unit of Pakistans Army was also placed on standby position. 

In Peshawar, 12,000 policemen were deployed under a comprehensive security plan. Closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) were installed in a number of places to monitor suspicious activity. 

In the Sialkot district alone, 1,258 gatherings were anticipated and planned for. 

Sindh government has confirmed that mobile service was suspended in 245 areas in Karachi. Cellular signals were limited in”flashpoints” and where major processions and gatherings are held.

On rare occurrence of medical emergencies, six operation theatres, 16 ambulances, and 422 medical personnel were placed on high alert in Lady Reading Hospital. 

In the Pakistani province of Punjab, 3,000 security personnel were deployed in Rawalpindi to ensure the safety of the processions.

Shia Rights Watch expresses gratitude for the protection of Shia Muslims in their religious expression. Moreover, the organization notes that the new measures not only protect Shia Muslims, it prevents violence that leads to loss of life and damage to property of non-Shia individuals. The aforementioned increases in security measures were reported by state officials and news personnel. Shia Rights Watch invites Shia communities to retrospectively evaluate these measures and encourages feedback to local authorities in the aims of developing year-round security for the Shia of Pakistan. 

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2019

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2019

During August, Shia Rights Watch celebrated the Eid al-Adha by illuminating Time Square, New York. The organization called for solidarity against intolerance and injustice. SRW Eid al- Adha activity can be found here and here

Analysis of anti-Shiism in the first six months of 2019 was published as well. Within the report, SRW researchers shed light on 375 imprisonments, 190 cases of denaturalization, 275 deaths, 77 sentencings, and 143 injuries as a result of anti-Shiism. The report can be viewed here

On the occasion of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Faith on August 22, 2019, Shia Rights raised awareness on the case of Shia Muslims and vowed advocacy against religious minorities all over the world. 

On the final days of August, Shia Rights Watch released its annual Muharram Advisory. The report notes measures that Shia communities and local and national authorities can take to prevent violence against anti-Shia violence. The report can be found here


Early this month, Osama al-Tamimi, a former member of the Bahrain Council of Representatives, was taken from his home. Al-Tamimi has faced endless harassment. In 2012, al-Tamimi called for the resignation of Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, the Bahraini Prime Minister in a speech. 

Activism is quelled all over Bahrain, regardless of age. Seven minors were detained in house raids at dawn on the 19th. No warrants were presented at the time of the arrest. 

Hunger strikes in Bahrain have gained over 600 partakers within the month of August. The hunger strike began with a hand full of prisoners, and within a few weeks, has grown by 500%. Prisoners in Jaws Prison expressed grievance over inhumane restrictions, lacking conditions and torture. The movement has also gained traction on an international level. Ali Mushaima, son of Hasan Mushaima, resumed his hunger strike in protest of medical negligence in the prison in which his father is being held. Hassan Moushaima was the founding member of a-Wefaq and an active campaigner for democracy in Bahrain. Ali Musahima expresses concern for his father’s health as he suffers from, among others,  diabetes and high blood pressure. Hasan Mushaima is also a lung cancer survivor. His family worries about the relapse of his cancer under lacking conditions of the prison. 

Ali Mushaima held a first hunger strike in summer 2018 during which he held protests outside the Bahraini Embassy in London. In an open letter, Ali asked the  intervention, 

“I would like to ask your majesty to use the influence and strong friendship with the king of Bahrain to help me save my father. All I ask for is for him to be treated humanely, including access to adequate medical treatment, books, and family visitation without subjecting him to humiliating measures.”

The Bahraini government subsequently allowed PET cancer scans for his father and gave Hasan Mushaima access to medical attention as per Ali Mushaima’s requests.  

Mohammad al-Singace is another prisoner whose family has expressed immense worry for. Voice recordings from al-Singace tell tales of deteriorating health. Al-Singace is serving a 10-year prison sentence. He has demanded a fair trial and investigations into torture as conditions to end his hunger strike. 

Activists express concerns about increased violence in the hands of Bahraini authorities in the 2019 hunger strike. Late this month, sources within Jaws prison reported raids and beatings by correctional officers over participation in the hunger strikes. A number of prisoners have fainted as a result of the abuse; 20 others have been thrown into solitary confinement on accusations of inciting the hunger strikes. Visitation rights for many have been revoked raising questions of possible torture and deteriorations of health. 

Hassan al-Ghassra, a prisoner at Jaws, reports unjustified targeting of prisoners by guards. It must be mentioned that Jaws prison does not have a system in which prisoners can report the abuse of power and arbitrary violence in the hands of guards and prison authorities. An example of a lack of accountability is the case of Ali Hassan Daoud, who was granted medical treatment by a judge. Prison authorities have ignored the judge’s orders and have refused Daoud medical attention.  Daoud is serving a 15-year sentence (since 2015) and currently suffering from sharp drops in blood pressure, high fever and severe pains in various parts of his body. 

Shia Rights Watch sources report prisoners are not allowed to congregate in peaceful gatherings, nor are they allowed access to religious texts. 

The Bahrain Interfaith Center called for an end to limitations in access to religious texts and religious practice. Authorities have yet to respond to requests. 

Despite the ongoing conditions of human rights in Bahrain, Shia Rights Watch expresses hope for the release of activists unjustly detained. Najah Yusuf was released amidst other prisoners on an Eid al-Adha pardon  Yusuf was arrested for social media criticism of F1 races in Bahrain; In April 2017, she was arrested after posting a note on Facebook where she wrote “no to F1 race on occupied Bahraini land … the race is nothing more than a way for the Al Khalifa ruling family to whitewash their criminal record of human rights abuses.” 

A number of other prisoners were released under the Alternative Punishment Law. Amira Al-Qashaami, Faten Hussein, Hamida Joumaa and Mona Habib served two and a half of their three-year prison sentences and were freed early in August. 

The release of the activists above and the growing rate of activism for reform in the Kingdom of Bahrain support hope for change. Shia Rights Watch continues to advocate for democracy and human rights and encourages peaceful reform. 

Saudi Arabia

In August, two have passed away as a result of inhumane conditions in Tarfia Prison located in the Qassim region of Saudi Arabia. 

On August 3rd, Sheikh Saleh Abdulaziz al-Dumari died of health complications he had developed at Tarfia prison. Dumairi suffered from heart conditions and was being kept in solitary confinement.

Within days, on the 9th of August, Ahmed Abdullah Abdulrahman Shaa’yi passed away. Shaa’yi was a pro-democracy activist. Circumstances surrounding his death are unknown. His family reports torture and medical negligence.  

Conditions in Saudi prisons are alarming. Leaked medical reports to King Salman indicate severe physical abuse, malnutrition, cuts, bruises, and burns on the bodies of prisoners. Among reports are the following: severe weightloss, continuous vomiting, lacerations on back, chest, abdomen, and thighs, facial pallor (change in skin color as a result of ailment) and reduced mobility as a result of torture. 

Sources report being tied to chairs lashed with cords and electrocuted as forms of torture and coercion to denounce their activism. 

Sources within the Saudi government report multiple advisories to the Saudi King to release ill prisoners to medical centers. Authorities have since ignored calls for medical attention to detainees. 

Shia Rights Watch expresses immense concern for detainees in Saudi Arabian prisons and calls upon authorities within the kingdom to stand consistent with diplomatic statements which state, “Saudi Arabia takes any and all allegations of ill-treatment of defendants awaiting trial or prisoners serving their sentences very seriously.”


Early in the month of August, the Kaduna State High Court granted release of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife on bail, allowing to couple to travel to India for medical treatment. Zakzaky himself suffers from shrapnel fragments in his eyes, hands, and right thigh from previous attacks. Medical reports released show toxins within his system that were linked to multiple strokes in his time in detainment. His wife, Malama Zeenah, has a bullet lodged in her body that should long ago have been removed. 

The couple was allowed treatment given the following conditions: 

  • They would have to accept their costs of treatment and travel, 
  • They would travel only with national security guards in whose hands were permission for any treatment and travel plan, 
  • They would sign an agreement which stated they would not apply for asylum in India. 

Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana criticized the conditions. He stated, “The so-called agreement is alien to the penal code and the administration of criminal justice law of Kaduna State.” 

None-the-less the couple traveled to India on August 12th. Upon arrival, Zakzaky released a statement stating,

 “We saw that we were practically brought to another detention facility which is even stricter than the one we were in back in Nigeria. They came here with police armed with guns and a lot of staff from the Nigerian embassy. And we also noticed we were brought into another detention that we only came based on trust. I see here that even when I was in Kiri Kiri prison, it wasn’t as constricting as in this situation. So I feel that it is not reasonable to leave detention to seek medical help and we are placed in different detention, and on top of that, we are handed over to be treated by people we do not trust. So based on this we think that Insha Allah by all apparent indications that there is a need for us to return home since we were allowed to travel abroad for medical care and India doesn’t appear to be a safe place for us. ”

Within two days, on the 14th of August, the couple returned from India with grievances of restrictions on their medical treatments. Upon arrival at the airport, the pair were taken in by Nigerian security agents to an unknown location. 

Exact whereabouts of the Zakzaky couple remain undisclosed. 


At 10:40 p.m local time on August 17,  a bomb detonated at a wedding in Kabul killing 80 and wounding 160 others; 60 of those dead died on-site, and the other 20 died during recovery- 14 of those deaths were from the family of the bride. A suicide bomber detonated a bomb-laden vehicle placed near the men’s section of the wedding hall located in west Quetta. The area is an area of the city densely populated by Shia Muslims, a fact well known by ISIS militants behind the attack. 

Shia Muslims are frequently targets of violence in the hands of extremist groups rampant in the immediate region.   


On August 16, an improvised explosive device placed under a wooden chair specific to the leader of the prayer in a mosque in Quetta’s Kuchlak area killed four and wounded 20 others on site. 

Quetta is home to a large population of Shia Muslims. The city has also been home to a high rate of bombings such that of the aforementioned incident which targets Shia congregation sites. Residents of Quetta express worry for the safety of their families and have stated that they feel that their local authorities fail to ensure their safety by stopping violence in the hands of violent extremists.


In addition to presenting anti-Shia incidents in August, Shia Rights Watch expresses worry for the upcoming month of September as it falls coincidental to the holy month of Muharram. 

Congregation and expression of religion are critical parts of Muharram rituals for the Shia. Shia Rights Watch expresses concern for the safety of Shia Muslims in light of increased publicity. 

The organization continues to prioritize human rights and continues to monitor incidents of anti-Shiism. 

SRW Expresses Gratitude On Protection of Rights in Sri Lanka

To the Honorable Ambassador Rodney Perera; 

Shia Rights Watch expresses gratitude for the Sri Lankan Colombo Magistrate courts for their protection of Shia Muharram ceremonies by restraining the nationalist groups, ‘Sinhala Jathika Balamuluwa’  and ‘Ravana Balaya,’ upon awareness of their planned disruption of Shia practices in Bambalapitiya. 

Colombo, Sri Lanka is home to over 25,000 Shia Muslims who are active in citizenship and patriotism. Violence on the basis of religious belief in 2019 startled many and instilled fear in various religious minorities, not only in Sri Lanka, but also the region. The action taken by the courts, however, was a pioneering step in signaling coexistence in the nation of Sri Lanka. 

To the Shia community, the protection of the Magistrate signaled that Sri Lanka prioritizes the prevention of human rights violations, supports diversity and coexistence of minorities and that the courts will not stand in support of any act of injustice and violence. 

Shia Rights Watch thanks the Sri Lankan authorities for their active prevention of human rights violations against religious minorities in the nation. This action of Sri Lanka now serves as an example of violence prevention for all nations in the international community. 

In hopes of international peace, 

Shia Rights Watch 

Sri Lanka’s Pioneering Protection of Shia Rights

Shia Rights Watch expresses gratitude for the Sri Lankan Colombo Hultsdorf Magistrate courts for their protection of Shia Muharram ceremonies. 

It is estimated that over 25,000 Shia Muslims practice within Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

On the first of September, corresponding with the beginning of the holy month of Muharram, spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera announced that the courts ordered restraints against two nationalist groups, ‘Sinhala Jathika Balamuluwa’  and ‘Ravana Balaya,’ that planned to disrupt Shia gatherings in the Bambalapitiya area of Colombo. 

In his statement, Gunasekera said that upon the discovery of information that the groups were planning to inhibit Shia religious expression, Colombo authorities increased security around Shia religious center. Security forces moreover increased accommodations in the immediate areas surrounding the center. 

Sri Lanka has been a recent home of violence based on religious beliefs, the biggest of which was the Easter bombings of April 2019. Coordinated attacks in the hands of extremist groups in six locations, three of which were churches, lead to the death of 258 and wounding of over 500 civilians.  Concerns over increased intolerance and extremist violence were raised among authorities within Sri Lanka and the international community.  

With the protection of the Shia religious center, Colombo’s Magistrate court took a pioneering step in the promotion of religious freedom in the nation. The court’s decision signaled three essential things: 

  1. Prevention of human rights violations is possible,
  2. The protection of one religious minority against extremism is the protection of all minority rights, 
  3. The courts will not stand in support of any act of injustice and violence. 

Shia Rights Watch thanks the Sri Lankan authorities for their active prevention of human rights violations against religious minorities in the nation. Moreover, this organization invites other countries to adopt Sri Lanka’s practice of violence prevention and legal signaling against inhumane suppression of expression in the hands of extremist groups. 



Muharram 2019 Advisory

Shia Rights Watch dedicates its efforts to protecting and promoting the rights of Shia Muslims all over the world. Within this advisory Shia Rights Watch expresses venerations to the Shia community on the event of the holy of the month of Muharram and calls on the greater international community for increased security against human rights violations based on religious beliefs.  

Muharram marks the commemoration of the sacrifices made against human rights violations. On this occasion,  Shia Muslims openly campaign against the terrors of their time. 

The nature of the congregation and visible religious expression, Shia Muslims become easy to identify and target. 

To prevent violations and to ensure the safety of the Shia community, SRW presents the following tips to create a unified platform for expression that not only meets religious guidelines but also lends to international and domestic regulations.


This advisory targets members of the Shia religious faith and national and local authorities. 


To the Shia communities: 

Know your rights as knowledge is key to rights

  •  As constituents of your nation, you have civil liberties. Familiarize yourself and your community with the nation’s defined human rights and freedom of religion.  

Build a relationship with your community law enforcement   

  • Approach your community law enforcement and communicate your observations for the month of Muharram.
  • Seek consultation from your local police department on the placement of security measures such as camera systems and alarms.
  • Ask for increased security. In many communities, police provide special protection for your institution, given your coordination. Keep in mind that increased security measures must be requested in advance.  
  • If needed, obtain the necessary congregation permits in advance.

Reach out to Government Representative

  • Meet with the governor and mayor of your town. Have a conversation about your concerns. Reach out and open a line of communication.

Be cognisant of your non-practicing community

  • Recognize that you are a part of a broader community that may or may not commemorate Muharram.
  • Respect local regulations.
  • Reach out and communicate an increase in activity to neighbors and surrounding institutions.
  • Prepare and provide brochures or pamphlets, educating others on the significance and relevance of Muharram.  

In case of a human rights violation, Know Your Resources!

  • In case of emergency, contact your local police immediately.
  • Contact Shia Rights Watch to inquire about rights-based counseling and broadcast.

To national and local authorities: 

Be aware of the increased risk of anti-Shiism and increase security measures

  • Congregation and religious expression are critical in Muharram rituals. Increased visibility and dense populations of Shia ease anti-Shia violence, and thus, Shia communities are at a higher risk. 
  • Extremist organizations are willing to target Shia Muslims at the cost of civilian and non-civilian lives. 
  • Organize increased security according to Shia distribution in the area. 

Include Shia community leaders in civil planning

  • Reach out to community leaders in the preparation of security measures and possible changes in traffic patterns
  • Leaders within Shia communities have first-hand knowledge of the rituals and concerns of their respective communities. Including them in civil-planning can reduce the cost of additional measures. 
  • Inclusion of local communities allows for cohesion and is linked with increased bi-directional cooperation in policy 

Provide training to non-Shia members of the security enforcement

  • Access implicit bias and train against discrimination in law enforcement
  • Educate law enforcement about Shia beliefs and rituals
  • Members of law enforcement are not exemptions to discriminatory cultures in the larger society. Local and National authorities must address implicit bias within their security personnel to ensure the law is being carried out in an unbiased manner. 


#Muharram2019 has been established by Shia Rights Watch as a platform to share recent anti-Shia incidents for both members of the Shia community and authorities. The link will be monitored by international media outlets and human rights organizations.     

International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

August 22 was proclaimed as the International Day for Victims of Violence Based on Religion or Belief by the United Nations General Assembly. The day is set in honor of “victims and survivors who often remain forgotten.” In a statement, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland Jacek Czaputowicz stated,

 “One-third of the world’s population suffers from some form of religious persecution.  Acts of terror are intended to intimidate members of religious communities and, as a result, to hold them back from practicing their faith.  In some countries, religious practice is forbidden even at home, and sometimes the representatives of religious minorities are refused religious funerals.”

Violence against religious minorities is an international problem. In both the East and the West, religious groups are targeted based on nothing else other than their expressed beliefs. Public expression of beliefs is thwarted through intimidation and threats of violence. Moreover, many groups face persecution not only in the hands of violent extremism but also by in the hands of systemic discrimination within the legal infrastructure. 

Violence based on religious identity is an international issue.  Addressing violence against religious groups is especially significant in light of the mobile nature of such groups and the migration of diaspora across national and regional lines. No longer are hate crimes and their motivations relevant to a singular administration. None-the-less, the session highlighted the need for reform of policies that perpetuate violence and hinder justice for religious minorities. 

The adopted resolution seeks to raise awareness of the importance of religious diversity.  Within the session, national representatives warned against the provocation of hateful rhetoric, called on the prosecution of perpetrators of violence and reform of repressive legislation, pushed for recognition of xenophobia and racism, and the concession of resources to counter hate. 

During the session, the case of the Rohingya in Myanmar, Yazidis in Iraq, Uyghur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs in China and Christians in non-Christian nations were mentioned. Shia Rights Watch notes that in addition to the groups mentioned, the case of Shia Muslims must be acknowledged in efforts to counter violence based on religious beliefs.

Shia Muslims are residents of the international community. Shia Rights Watch estimates Shia Islam to be the largest minority group in the world, and one of the largest religious identities in the Middle East. Yet, violence against the religious group has been long neglected.

On this day, Shia Rights Watch renews its vow to advocate for violence against Shia Muslims in addition to other religious groups and calls on the international community to acknowledge adversity faced by religious groups, especially hardships faces by the international Shia population. 



Bi-Annual Report 2019


Anti-Shiism remains prominent and thriving in the first half of 2019. Anti-Shiism, or the deliberate targeting of Shia Muslims with aims of suppressing representation and expression, can be found in a variety of techniques and practices such as executions, abductions, denial of basic rights (right to property, to vote, to citizenship, etc.), and wrongful imprisonment.

Shia Muslims make up a significant portion of the world’s population. Due to the severe marginalization they face, it is difficult to collect exact data on the regional population of Shia Muslims. Researchers at Shia Rights Watch place the Shia population at 50% of the global Muslims population.  Shia Rights Watch highlights a need to address violence against this population and continues to delve into extensive research into the Shia population. 

This bi-annual report encapsulates known cases of anti-Shiism throughout the months of January to June 2019 all over the world. These cases are varied, ranging from killings, injuries, removal of Shia TV channels, and the razing of mosques to denial of entry into a country, denial of rights to property ownership, and hunger strikes in grievance of maltreatment and poor prison conditions. 


These cases include: 

  • 375 total imprisonments; 
  • 190 de-naturalizations;
  • 275 killings/executions; 
  • 77 life sentences relating to activism;
  • 143 injuries.

 This report is not all-inclusive, and only includes incidents that have been made aware to the SRW. This does not mean that all other cases which have not been documented and reported aren’t valid and there should be in no way, shape, or form dismissal of these undocumented cases, for they too are composed of injustices against the Shia peoples. More information can be found at shiarightswatch.org.


Afghanistan is a hostile and potentially fatal environment for Shia Muslims. There were three explosions reported in the Shia populated areas of Kabul, resulting in more than 36 dead and an unknown number of injuries. 

An attack in March left six people dead and 23 severely injured. The explosion occurred in preparation for Nowruz celebrations that marked the advent of spring. The blasts reportedly occurred near Kabul University and the Kart-e Sakhi shrine.

The second attack in June occurred as in two-part explosion. The first explosion was on a bus carrying university students. The initial explosion caused the death of  25 Shias. The second detonation was initiated when Afghan security forces began to gather around the site. 

The attacks in June left more than 30 killed and many injured in the city of Kabul. Members of ISIS/ISIL claim responsibility for the attacks.


Attacks are mainly designed to target large gatherings. The attacks against civilians have resulted in extreme fear and paranoia, preventing Afghan Shia from attending religious and cultural programs. Such violence not only threatens the lives of the people but also harms their overall participation in society. Attacks target those who provide aid or support to Shia as well. The nature of the attacks exemplify the radical extremism that drives violence in the nation. Not only do extremists want to eradicate Shia Muslims, but they wish to also eliminate anyone who empathizes with victims of anti-Shiism. 

Shia Rights Watch highlights the need for increased security measures that not only protect Shia Muslims but also to protect non-Shia service providers. 

The severity of the attacks on the Shia population in Afghanistan has a historic tendency to be extreme and require a variety of approaches to contain, with these months serving as a quintessential example. Therefore, it is important to advocate for minority rights in the country and to secure Shia populations to ensure their livelihood and development.  



Shia Rights recognizes and thanks the Bahraini authorities for the charging of 12 guards with the physical assault of Bahraini detainees. Although the charges mark an inch of progress, there still needs to be miles of reform before progress can be seen.

Bahrain is a country known for its various cases of anti-Shiism, with the preferred method of repression being forced disappearance and imprisonment. Violations against Shia Muslim were highlighted in a lack of due process, subpar prison conditions and subjectified labeling of Shia activists as terrorists. 

 The month of February marked the anniversary of the uprising in Bahrain in 2011. On February 13th, forces raided many cities and arbitrarily arrested 23 people. On the 14th, protests and sit-ins were held in reaction to suppression- another 13 people were then arrested.


Despite calls for reduced repression by the international community, Shia Muslims continue to live under a  discriminatory legal system.

Shia activists are met with lacking due process. Ahmed Al-Mullali and Ali Hakim Al-Arab, two Shia detainees that have sat on death row since January of last year, were executed in May. The two were subject to severe beatings after their conviction and were put to death under the reasoning of “terrorism”. The two were convicted in a mass conviction alongside 58 other defendants. 

The detention of Hadeer Abadi, a Bahraini detainee, was extended for the fourth consecutive time on April 13th. She was not charged with a single crime, yet she continues to be held against her will with no contact between her and the outside world. 

Nabeel Rajab, a well-known Shia activist, was denied the opportunity to receive “alternative punishment law”. In Bahrain, those convicted have the right to ask for this to possibly change their sentences, but the motion, proposed by Rajab’s lawyer, was denied without even being heard.


Sheikh Salman was also given a life sentencing after the court refused to approve his appeal against it. Salman was initially sentenced to four years for “inciting hatred”, but the sentence was increased to life despite criticism from the United Nations.

Later in June, a court in the Kingdom of Bahrain handed 167 prison sentences against pro-democracy Shia protesters; 56 of the defendants received ten years in jail and were accused of “attacking police officers” and the remaining received one-year terms.


The oppressive practices in Bahrain seem to target all manners of Shia individuals, regardless of class, sex, or innocence. These practices have led to some of the most dehumanizing conditions one could imagine for any group of people, which only goes on to breed fear and insecurity in the Bahraini Shia community. This prevents cohesion between members of a nation and furthers friction and feelings of discontent between the government and those it governs. 

Many are detained under unsupported allegations. A cleric was held on trial for “allegedly” insulting the Rashidun Caliphate. Another Shia cleric was also interrogated by Bahraini security forces after being summoned for questioning and spending a month in detention. The reasons for the interrogation were not released. Sheikh Yassin al-Jamri, a Shia cleric, was put back into detention after being questioned by the Manama regime on May 29th. There was no explanation given to his arrest, nor was there a date given to a court hearing. 


Bahraini authorities use unjustified harshness that unilaterally limit Shia Muslims. Random assaults and violent searches of cells by guards have also left a myriad of detainees injured. 

Naji Fateel, a prisoner since November 2018, was thrown back into solitary confinement on the basis of a conversation between him and a human rights campaigner. 

On April 16th, there was a mass trial held where 139 people were de-naturalized and sentenced to jail; 69 of them received life sentences, 39 received a 10-year sentence, and 23 received 7-year sentences. The rest received 5-year sentences. 


Harsh sentencing for Shias in Bahrain continued in February, with Shia detainee Zakiya Issa Al-Barboury receiving a five-year prison sentence as well as being de-naturalized. Back in May of 2018, she was accused of “terrorism”.

Prisoners are often denied the right to contact the family. Amira Al-Qashaami, alongside two other detainees, Fatima, and Iman Ali Abdullah, are examples of said denial of rights during the month of March. 

Moreover, those detained are held under lacking prison conditions and inhumane negligence. Many cases of medical negligence in the Jaw Prison of Bahrain were reported by a Baharani rights campaigners. Among the reports, there are cases where treatment was delayed and it was also reported that more than 20 detainees were suffering from sickle cell anemia and are receiving no treatment. A detainee has developed amnesia due to being denied treatment alongside a host of other disorders. 

Conditions of the prisons in Bahrain deteriorate, and the lack of medical treatment continues to be an issue as the families of Hassan Mushaima and Hajer Mansoor Hassan report that medical care for the two has been repeatedly and deliberately denied. 


Due to the lack of medical treatment, detainees decided to go on a hunger strike over the extreme situation in Jaw Prison. Ali Al-Hajji and Mohamed Mirza, started hunger strikes in opposition during the month of April.

April also marks the commencement of the 156th consecutive week that Shias were denied the right to engage in congregation prayers in their own mosques. 

The Bahrain Court also de-naturalized 11 Shia citizens and sentenced 7 of them to life in prison for their involvement with anti-regime, pro-democracy movements. 


Bahrain also targets various Shia figures in its community through the act of citizenship revocation. The Manama regime de-naturalized 40 citizens throughout the month of January on the basis of their expressions against the government. 

Ebrahim Sharif was sentenced to six months in Bahraini prison over a critical tweet he wrote about the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir. He was let out on bail and later denied the charges placed against him (“insulting the head of a foreign state”), stating that his tweets fall under freedom of expression. 

A Baharani journalist was also summoned for questioning by Manama’s security services for criticizing the kingdom’s interior ministry on social media after the ministry threatened social media users with legal action. 

Minors are no exception to violence in Bahraini legal system. Three minors, Hussein Radhi, Ebtisam Al-Saegh and Ali Hussein Abdulwahab, were also put into detention this month alongside having their homes raided by Bahraini security forces in the northern village of Al Musalla. The teenagers were put into detention over charges of an “illegal gathering”, which is typically a code-word used by the government for a peaceful protest. The minors are also being denied the right to contact their parents. 


As a repressive measure, actions internationally recognized as actions of self-expression are criminalized in the Kingdom. During the commemoration of Fatima Zahra, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), Bahraini security forces razed several Shia mosques and gathering spaces alongside removing all black flags and banners meant for commemoration. 

The deplorability of Shia treatment in Bahrain has been a recurring theme in the country’s politics for years now and it has long been time to stop it, as these past few months have evidenced. So, given the multiplicity and variety of the violations forced upon Shia Muslims in Bahrain, the most optimal course of action would be to continue advocating for their rights and perhaps collaborate with other governmental entities to work in conjunction against the discriminatory tactics carried out by the Manama regime. 



Anti-Shiism is not an issue bound to a region and often takes root in other subversive forms in countries foreign to the Middle East, such as France. 

Although France has not had many violations concerning the Shia population historically, recent events revealed that a possible trend could develop in the country. It is imperative that preventative measures be taken to avoid this becoming a reality. 

During the month of March, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner closed down four Shia centers under the guise of them being backed by Iran, a baseless claim that leads to the prolonged marginalization of the Shia people.

Shia Muslims have long expressed independence from any political entity. The minister’s failure to recognize Shia Muslims as an independent religious group is a show of ignorance. 

Shia Rights Watch calls on Castener to acknowledge wrongdoing in the closure of the religious center and to hold accountable acts of anti-Shiism in the country. 



Iraq has a majority Shia population, but the violations in Iraq continue to happen with startling frequency in the first six months of 2019; 137 civilians were killed, over 40 were wounded, and mosques, buses, and markets were destroyed. 

January signaled the beginning of a violent year with an explosion in the markets of al-Qaim, leaving three civilians dead and more than 20 injured. Later on, Iraqi forces found two bodies in different areas of Baghdad. Five other incidents left five dead. 

In February, a bus explosion took place in Samarra, leaving 13 people dead.

ISIS also attacked a Turkaman tribe in March, killing 20 people. Shortly after this, Iraqi security forces discovered a mass grave with 65 bodies occupying it. According to authorities, 7 people were also killed during several assassinations by masked men throughout the month.

At least 15 different people were killed in a series of individual killings throughout the month of April. The assassinations are known to be credited to masked assailants in the city of Baghdad.

June sees the streak of excessive violence continued with a suicide bombing occurring at a mosque in eastern Baghdad on the 21st, killing 7 and injuring 20 Shia Muslims. The attacks target Shia civilians in everyday settings.

Iraq suffers from a deficit in resources as well as a continued regional instability. As a result, individual assassinations and roadside explosions have become a norm of daily life, a norm which is faced with a lack of accurate reporting. 

SRW believes that normalization of human rights violations is a dangerous form of apathy and must be fought against.  Iraqis, like all other people, have the right to peace and security. Therefore, the violations they face must be covered by the media, coupled with regional governments and international committees taking initiative to ensure proper awareness of incidents of anti-Shiism. 


On June 26th, a Shia couple was denied the right to rent property in the town of Hadat under the rationale of it being a “Christian” community.

The property owner told the couple that the law was established by Hadat’s legislation, prohibiting Muslims from renting or buying Christian properties. It is important to note that Hadat is on the edge of an area known as Dahiyeh, which has a high concentration of Shia Muslims. 

Lebanon has been established as a nation of multi-religious identities. Incidents such as those described above can threaten peaceful coexistence and can serve as grounds for the growth of intolerance.  



Violations against the Shia population in Nigeria has been on the rise. The recent events in 2019 exemplifying this. Local authorities in Kaduna during the month of May were reported to have attacked Shia protesters on the 31st, leading to several injuries.

Shia religious figures have been subjected to deplorable treatment. The Shia, Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife were wrongly imprisoned four years ago and had no access to medical treatment whatsoever. Zakzaky had his charges acquitted long ago but continues to sit in custody. 

A lack of medical treatment resulted in the loss of this eye and the deterioration of his pre-existing cardiac condition. In June, according to members of the Islamic Movement, Zakzaky was poisoned and in an investigation, it was revealed that high concentrations of lead and cadmium were found in his blood.

The trend in Nigeria has clearly been against the wellbeing of its Shia population, and it seems to be primarily targeting its leaders as well as those who decide to voice their discrepancies with this treatment. SRW calls on regional recognition of the Nigerian Shia condition and cooperation on the same level to work towards a more equitable environment. 



Pakistan has been a hazardous place for the Shia population, with many reports of disappearances, killings, and explosions. During the first six months of 2019, many people were reported missing, over 30 were killed, many were injured, and three were arrested unlawfully. 

Mohammad Ali Shah, vice chairman of the Shia Council and known activist, was shot and killed in the city of Karachi during the first few days of January. The Shia population in Pakistan has implored the government to take action against this violence, but the apathy exercised towards the situation only ensures its continued occurrence.

On January 29th, families of missing Shia Muslims organized a hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club in unified protest against the enforced disappearances of their loved ones. Protesters proclaimed that several members of their community have been a victim to this oppressive tactic and demanded justice. 

During the month of March, the Superintendent of the Balochistan University Sayyed Hussein Shah was shot and killed in the city of Quetta. The killing of Shah is consistent with trends of anti-Shiism in Pakistan aimed at removing Shia individuals from positions of power. 

On April 12th, the Hazarganji’s district of Quetta was attacked, an area which is home to a large Hazara community. The attack took 20 lives and wounded at least 48 others. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that they “targeted the Hazara community”. On the following month, an explosion near a Shia mosque in Quetta killed four and wounded ten others. 

In the beginning of June, two were arrested for killing Shia civilians. The arrests took place in response to Shia demands for security.  Following this incident a few days later, two other Shia were killed with many others injured in an explosion in Ziarat. Within the same day and city, another explosion took place and three others were killed.

Later in June, an elderly Shia man returning from a pilgrimage was taken in custody by the police with no justifications. 

The violations in Pakistan are mainly due to the government’s lack of protection of the Shia population. It is possible to see that the trend for violations in Pakistan occurs in the forms of abductions and killings, which prominently target Shia community in Pakistan. Shia have reported that they have requested more protection from their local authorities, yet they are not granted any.

Shia Rights Watch suggests more in-depth international media coverage into the situation that Shia Muslims in Pakistan are forced to face, so as to bring greater attention and action against these transgressions.   


Saudi Arabia

During the first half of 2019, 43 Shia were killed, many were injured, and two activists were arrested. These incidents highlight the historical tendency Saudi Arabia has with religious persecutions.  

In January,  the Shia population of Saudi Arabia was once again subject to religious persecution and violence. The village of Umm al-Hamam was the target of an attack on the 8th. The attack left five killed and many injured. Forces entered the village and stormed into a number of houses after surrounding it for 15 hours, likely as a tactic to instill fear. During the same day, known human right activist Mohammad Nabil Al-Jowhar was arrested. 

In the same month, Nayef Ahmed Omran, an activist who has been imprisoned since March of 2011, was announced dead in prison. Activists believe that his death might have been the result of torture.

A horrific mass execution occurred in Saudi Arabia in April, breaking the record with 37 executions took place on the 23rd. Saudi forces then proceeded to leave the bodies of two executed men on display, hanging them from poles for several hours. By leaving their bodies on display and by surrounding the city of Qatif, which holds a majority Shia population, the government sought to inspire terror and anguish in the community. Saudi force further prevented mourning ceremonies. 

May continued the trend of suppression seen in previous months, with eight people killed under the guise of “counter-terrorism” in al-Qatif. The authorities claimed that they were targeting “terrorist cells”. 

June proves to serve no exception to the trend of violations occurring in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, having the execution of the 18-year-old Murtaja Qureiris as the topic of concern. He was charged on various counts of “terrorism”, “anti-governmental” speech, and for attending his brother’s funeral who died in a protest in 2011. 


The majority of these allegations occurred when Qureiris was just 10 years old. During his arrest, his interrogators beat him and promised to release him on the grounds that he confessed to the “crimes” he committed. Qureiris’ death sentence was overturned, but the fact that he could have 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. 

The case of activist Nassimah Al-Sadah remains unresolved. Al- Sadah has yet to be charged. Something which is also equally alarming is the fact that by detaining Al-Sadah for this period of time, Saudi Arabia violates its own penal code due to the fact that it dictates that one cannot be held in pre-trial detention for more than six months. Al-Sadah has been detained for nearly nine months and is still lacking access to a fair trial.

These obvious 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. The Shia Rights Watch suggests an international outcry for the rights of Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia, alongside the rights of other religious minorities that find themselves victims of these oppressive practices. The international and regional communities must work in solidarity against these violations if any change is to be seen.


Conclusion & Suggestions

Shia Rights Watch urges the international community to recognize violence against Shia Muslims. 

Until this justice is wrought, violations will persist throughout the various communities in this report and the plethora of others that weren’t reported. Shia Rights Watch invites all countries to respect the human rights of Shia Muslims as they are as equally deserving of equitable treatment as any other demographic would be.

The Shia Rights Watch proposes a series of suggestions that might better help countries understand how to tackle the issue of Shia marginalization and ensure the preservation of current and future human rights. These suggestions consist of: 

  • Dialogue between governments and activists. A common interest must be established so that present governmental entities and reform seekers can have a level platform to discuss the state of human rights in their nation. 
  • Increased activism of Shia Muslims in their communities. Shias must find it within themselves to empower those around them through being exemplary citizens and figures in their communities. Activism must include speaking out against unethical practices which may occur in their daily lives and peaceful methods of ;
  • Education on human rights for all minority populations. For one to defend and advocate for their rights, they must first be informed as to what they are. Initiatives should take place to further the education of historically oppressed communities in regards to what international rights they’re entitled to as well as whom they can turn to when these rights are violated;
  • Raising accurate media coverage. The media is one of the primary outlets for regional and global exposure, so it can function as an efficient medium to provide unbiased depictions of Shia Muslims as well as functioning as a platform for precise coverage of the events and achievements that pertain to the Shia community. 

The Shia Rights Watch encourages the various Shia collectives found throughout the world to stand in solidarity against anti-Shiism by collaborating with the various outlets of exposure in their respective countries to bring awareness to the issues that Shia Muslims find themselves confronting on a daily basis.


UN Complaint