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August 1, 2014

Shia Islamic Center Closed in Iran

Beyt al-Abbas Center, a Shia Islamic center in Isfahan, Iran was forced to shut down by authorities in mid July. Authorities ceased operation of the center during the Ramadhan Iftar, claiming the center lacks licensure to operate. Members of the center state that they have applied for a license to operate multiple times during the past ten years and were denied each time. Activist and associates for the center criticized the local government to use the same excuse that Bahraini and Saudi governments are using to close down Shia religious centers.

SRW Interns to the Rescue

At noon on Thursday July 31st, Haley Bibbee and Skye Thompson, two SRW interns, went out to Farragut Square of Washington, DC to carry out their “Did You Know” campaign. Through the campaign, they wanted to inform the public of what was going on in other parts of the world to the Shia minority and the universal human rights that were not being granted to them.

The campaign consisted mainly of two parts: a poster board including religion demographic breakdown for six countries (Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Lebanon) and a handful of over one hundred playing cards with Shia facts written on them. Out on the square, they informed numerous people of things that aren’t broadcasted on the news, such as the multiple prayer centers that have been shut down and the complete banning of the religion’s teachings in certain countries. Many who stopped by got really invested in the topic and inquired about subject they felt mattered but hadn’t known about. The interns talked about what Shia is and how their community is being treated, making comparisons to the listener’s own affiliations, anywhere between their own religion to their political stances and down to their race, so that they could sympathize with what these people were going through in other parts of the world. Out of all of the people that they talked to, the only people that had truly known of the facts written on the cards were those that were originally from those countries and the Middle East region.

When they returned from their time out on the square, they came back with the realization that Americans never trouble themselves with what is going on outside of the United Nations unless it has something to do with a fellow American. They said that this is the reason why we must go out and talk to people about these things, because if we don’t, they will never know.

Anti-Shiism in Nigeria

On July 29th, the two mosques in the town of Potiskum in Nigeria’s Yobe State were targeted by bombers while people were praying. The first explosion in the Dogo Tebo area of Potiskum killed four Shia Muslims and the second explosion, that went off in the Anguwar Bolawa, area killing another two.

Boko Haram is a militant terrorist group that has carried out many attacks on Christians and Muslims in northeastern Nigeria. The group also kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in April.

 How ISIS is Changing History and How the World

Archealogical sites do not only symbolize the history of one nation, but the culture and antiquity of mankind. Associating historical sites to only one group of people deprives all others from thier shared heritage. Such associations enable oppresive governments such as Saudi Arabia to demolish the Al- Baqi Cemetary and terrorist groups such as ISIS to destroy a number of historical sites in Syria and Iraq.

Al-Baqi Cemetery , one of the most important cemeteries in Middle East, was demolished by king Ibn Saud in 1925 because of its association with Shia grave visitation beliefs. A number of important historical figures such as the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, companions and grandchildren are buried in this historical location. The cemetery marks important historical events from pre and post-Islam. UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre whose mission is to ”ensure the protection of…natural and cultural heritage” is yet condemned Ibn Saud’s action.

Now, ISIS, a terrorist group from the same Wahhabi ideology of king Ibn Saud, is demolishing tombs, mosques, worship centers, churches, cemeteries and museums. Yet again, the World Heritage Centre has failed to condemn their actions that deny humanity its right to preserve history and pass it on to future generations.

Syria and Iraq, both places with a rich past civilizations, are now lands of terror with minimal signs of their history and heritage. The silence and inaction of UNESCO and others is enabling and even pushing ISIS to continue its ludicrous agenda. Terrorist groups such as ISIS enjoy destroying history that conflicts with their own world views and the world’s collective silence and inaction allows them to continue their wanton destruction.

ISIS is Spreading Fear by Posting Violent Videos, but What does that Tell about ISIS?

A video, recently posted by a number of media outlets, shows how ISIS dehumanized and killed an unknown number of young men, transported by six trucks. The video was released around Eid, Islam’s most important holiday.

The men executed in the video are very young, in their twenties and thirties. The video shows them in different stages: huddled in trucks, laid face down on the ground while their hands are tied, dragged, slapped and shot one by one. In a different scene some are shot and tossed off a bloody slope into water.

The natural human reaction to such videos is fear and disgust. However, these videos reveals some important truths about ISIS itself. Violence and threats are the only tools that ISIS is using. They do not use or even try dialogue or persuasion. Wherever they go they only use threats followed by extreme violence. This violence and its dissemination is the result of fear. ISIS is still a small group that could be overpowered by saner factions in Iraq and Syria. ISIS must use fear to control because without it, they would not have the power to succeed in their ethnic cleansing. But instilling fear through barbarism will weaken them in the long run as fear turns to hatred.Shia’s most respected Imam, Imam Ali, says “violence is the spike of stupidity” and “whoever acts in violence will regret it”.



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