October 27, 2014
Shia Targeted in Iraq
Shia Rights Watch condemns the latest wave of violence carried out by ISIS militants in Iraq in the last two weeks. Bombings centered on Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad have killed around 150 people between October 12 and October 19. The deadliest of the bombings came when two car bombs exploded simultaneously in the northern Dolaie neighborhood in Baghdad which killed 14 civilians.
Tomb of Muhammad al- Durri Demolished
According to Iraqi sources, ISIS has demolished the tomb of Muhammad al-Durri in the town of toward which is 25 kilometers from Tikrit. Muhammad al-Durri was the son of the 7th Imam in Shia Islam. Thousands of Shia visit this tomb yearly. ISIS has demolished many Shia mosques and tombs over the past year.
On October 24th Shia Rights Watch sent a letter to 177 foreign embassies to mark the beginning of the month of Muharram. The letter explains the importance of the month to Shia Muslims and the need to protect these communities as the commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali. With increased threats against Shia populations as the month begins, it is essential that governments around the world dedicate the necessary resources to keeping Shia safe as they peacefully commemorate. No group should have to endure extreme fear as the commemorate religious holidays. Shia Rights Watch is hopeful that governments around the world will comply with the wishes of its communities.
“May the Muharram of 2014 be a peaceful month in which we all practice living in harmony and mutual respect” -Mustafa Akhwand
Car bombs explode in Baghdad
Car bombings continue in the city of Baghdad, Iraq as 14 people were killed and 65 injured over the course of two hours on October 23rd. The worst of these bombings occurred when a car bomb detonated near a hospital in Sadr city which killed nine people and wounded 37 others. A recent UN report is claiming that 5,576 civilians have been killed and 11,666 civilians have been wounded in the first half of this year in Iraq.
Targeted Shia Killings in Pakistan
A resurgence of targeted Shia killings has left three men dead in three separate incidents throughout the country. An improvised explosive device (IED) killed a Shia Muslim man by the name of Akbar Ali in the city of Orakza, Pakistan. Another Shia was killed by gunmen in a grocery store in Karachi, Pakistan. Allah Ditta, was killed in Punjab.
Gruesome attack on Harazas
On October 23rd, eight people from the minority Shia Haraza sect were shot and killed as gunmen entered a bus and opened fire. The gunmen intercepted the bus on motorcycles as it was travelling through the city of Quetta and the men entered the bus before opening fire. Shia Rights Watch condemns these actions and calls on the Pakistani government to protect its Shia communities from these senseless attacks. Shia Rights Watch is actively working to get Pakistan added to the United States Department of State’s list of Countries of particular concern for religious freedom.
Reflections on the Syrian Conflict
In Armenak Tokmajyan’s article entitled Religion, Religious Leaders, and Violence in the Conflict in Syria, he gives a short overview of how moderate factions in the Syrian civil war were overtaken by more extreme factions in the conflict. These factions, Tokmajyan explains, tended to emerge from religious centers and their involvement in the conflict tended to create a more sectarian environment. Lastly Tokman concludes by stating that “the politicization of religion is an effective political tool because a significant portion of Islamic public in the Arab States swallows such rhetoric much easier than any other, especially after the failure of Arab Secularism represented by dictators and Arab Nationalism led by Syria and Egypt”.