The Persecution of Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia – by Syed Jaffar

The Persecution of Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia
 Saudi Arabia, the holy place of Islam, has become a humiliating place for Shias living in there or who come to pay a visit to the holy cities of Makah and Medina. The so called Wahabi Muslims in Saudi Arabia humiliate and degrade Shias on every possible ground making them feel outcaste. The attitude Saudi Wahhabis have towards Shias is highly deplorable. In the latter paragraphs, I have presented some facts regarding the persecution of Shias in Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia, Saudi Wahabis restrict Shias from any sort of involvement in the government. Some of Saudi’s famous personalities even sanctioned the killing of Shias by issuing fatwas. There have been no Shia cabinet ministers. They are set aside out of critical jobs in the armed forces and the security services. There are no Shia Mayors or police chiefs, and not one of the three hundred girls’ schools in the Eastern Province has a Shia principal the government has circumscribed the names that Shias can use for their children in an effort to discourage them from showing their identity. Saudi textbooks are antagonistic towards the Shia Faith, often characterizing the faith as a form of heresy worse than Christianity and Judaism. Teachers frequently tell classrooms full of young Shia school children that they are heretics in the eastern city of Dammam, where three quarters of residents are Shia, Ashura is banned, and there is no distinctly Shia call to prayer. There is no Shia cemetery for the 450,000 Shias that live there. There is only one mosque for the city’s Shias. The Saudi government has often been viewed as an active oppressor of Shias because of the funding of the Wahhabi ideology which decries the Shia faith.

The Day of Ashura is a commemoration made by Shia Muslims to remember the martyrdom of Muhammad’s (S.A.W) grandson, Husayn bin Ali (A.S) as one of the most important religious days. Shia Muslims remember the occasion with many somber events. However, the Wahhabi government has refused to allow Shia teachers and students exemption from school to partake in the activities. In 2009, during Ashura commencements, Shia religious and community leaders were arrested. Shiites are often banned from building mosques and other religious centers, and sometimes perform Friday prayers in various homes. In the Eastern city of Al-Khobar, whose population is predominately Shia, mosques and prayer centers were closed, beginning in July 2008. Because there are minor differences between the ways that Shiites and Sunnis pray and between prayer times, Shiites are forced to either pray the Sunni way or face much discrimination.

One of the five pillars of Islam requires all able-bodied Muslims to visit the holy city of Mecca and perform Hajj once in their lives. While this is supposed to be a time of immense spirituality, in 2009 when a group of Shiites went to perform their pilgrimage they were arrested by Sunni religious police. A fifteen-year-old pilgrim was shot in the chest and an unknown civilian stabbed a Shiite sheikh in the back, shouting “Kill the rejectionist [Shia]”.
Religious police even mandate the smallest things that the Shia community partakes in. Women were arrested in the Eastern Province for organizing classes for Quranic studies and those selling clothing for religious ceremonies were arrested as well.

Shiite pilgrims go to Jannat al Baqi mainly to visit the grave of Fatima and Ahl al-Bayt who are buried in the cemetery of Jannat al-Baqi’. Shias and Barelvi usually pray near graves of Ahl al-Bayt but Wahhabism doesn’t allow it and Wahabi extremist hit those offering prayers with sticks. In Saudi Arabia, most of the people follow Wahhabism, So they do not allow Shias to pray near graves of Ahl al-Bayt in Jannat al Baqi.

I have been very depressed with the way Saudi Wahabis are treating the 2nd largest majority of Muslims. Two days ago I watched a video on how Shias were treated in Masjid E Nabawwi. I was astonished to see the behavior of Saudi Wahabis even inside Masjid e Nabaww.

The discrimination Shias face in Saudi Arabia is deplorable. For Shias, Makah and Medina have the same importance as for Sunnis so why should they face such discrimination and humiliation? Islam never stops anyone from practicing his/her religion then who gave the right to the Saudi Wahhabis to humiliate Shias. In the end I would say that every Muslim, no matter to which sect he/she belongs, should stand up against this inhumane and notorious attitude of the Saudi’s towards Shia Muslims.

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