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Sunni Silence on Shi’a Persecution is Not Okay

Sunni Silence on Shi’a Persecution is Not Okay

It has been a devastating few weeks, with Daesh led violence claiming the lives of hundreds around the world. Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh all have seen growing death tolls as the so-called “Islamic State” propogates its vehemently un-Islamic ideology through violence and death. Iraq in particular has felt the brutality of Daesh’s attacks, with a death toll beyond 300 and still rising, after the car bombing of a busy Karrada mall as families were preparing for Eid al-Fitr.
It is important to remember that targeting Karrada, a predominantly Shi’a neighborhood of Baghdad, aligns with Daesh’s ideology of vitriolic hatred for Shi’a Muslims.

It is important to remember that targeting Karrada, a predominantly Shi’a neighborhood of Baghdad, aligns with Daesh’s ideology of vitriolic hatred for Shi’a Muslims.

Daesh’s agenda to attack and brutalize Shi’a Iraqis out of existence continued on July 8 when the mausoleum of Imam Ali al-Hadi’s (10th of the 12 Rightly Guided Imams, and a venerated figure in Shi’a tradition) son was targeted in the city of Balad by multiple suicide attackers, heavy artillery, and mortars. Often referred to as the Sayed Mohammad shrine, it is a revered place of worship for Shi’a Muslims in Iraq.
It was reported that one suicide bomber detonated outside the entrance, while another detonated as worshippers were fleeing. Over 50 innocent civilians were killed, with many others wounded. The self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

While Shi’a Iraqis were faced with two consecutive targeted and deadly attacks just days apart, selective mourning by the rest of the Muslim world has been a point of concern.

The bombing in Baghdad was, for good reason, used as a platform to denounce the so-called Islamic State as anything but Islamic, and rightfully so. It is a lack of distinction from the larger issue of Shi’a persecution, followed by the deafening silence in response to the recent attack in Balad, that foster a growing frustration within the Shia community.

 It is a lack of distinction from the larger issue of Shi’a persecution, followed by the deafening silence in response to the recent attack in Balad, that foster a growing frustration within the Shia community.

When it comes to the constant violence and antagonism that is brushed aside by majority Sunni Muslim communities, Shi’a Muslims are getting increasingly fed up. And rightfully so.

Here’s the ugly truth: Shi’a Muslim pain is worthy of discussion in the Sunni community only when it can serve as a narrative condemning Daesh; that is, that Daesh is a threat to all, including Muslims.

Here’s the ugly truth: The pain of Shi’a Muslims is worthy of discussion in the Sunni community only when it can serve as a narrative condemning Daesh; that is, that Daesh is a threat to all, including Muslims.

Sunni-majority sources may look at terrorist attacks in which the casualties are overwhelmingly Shi’a and say “See? Daesh kills Muslims too,” without acknowledging the systematic targeting of Shi’a populations.

Much of the marginalization of Shi’a Muslims – in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, and other countries around the world – is barely given a thought, let alone public outcry or condemnation from Sunni majority leadership.

When a suicide attack occurred outside of the Prophet’s mosque in Medina on the heels of the Karrada attack in Baghdad, the narrative shifted quickly.  This happened after Shi’a mosques were targeted with suicide attacks in Qatif, a majority Shi’a area, literally only hours before bombs sounded outside the Prophet’s mosque.  The narrative immediately shifted to Medina’s bombing, as Baghdad and Qatif – Shia targeted bombings – faded out.

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All of this feeds into what we see so often after Shi’a targeted killing:  The unwillingness of the Sunni majority to speak out against the second-class treatment of their brothers and sisters in faith.

Am I trying to be selective? Not at all. Muslim lives are being lost daily to the horrors and atrocities of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.  This distinction is necessary because of how the Shi’a minority have been historically persecuted by zealots and extremists with similar ideology, long before Daesh came in to being.

Perhaps what makes this distinction all the more necessary is that extremists like Daesh aren’t the only ones who oppress Shi’a Muslims. Governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Bahrain both explicitly and implicitly allow the targeting of Shia populations. This being normative does not make it okay, by any means.

Perhaps what makes this distinction all the more necessary is that extremists like Daesh aren’t the only ones who oppress Shi’a Muslims. Governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Bahrain both explicitly and implicitly allow the targeting of Shia populations. This being normative does not make it okay, by any means.

If anything, it means we as a community need to work exponentially harder to address the persecution and discrimination of minority-Muslim populations in the Ummah, and be just as outraged when violence occurs against them as we are when violence occurs against majority populations.

View Comments (7)
  • As a Sunni Muslim, I empathically agree with this excellent piece of writing. However, I do not see how this works out — “GOVERNMENTS OF PAKISTAN, SAUDI ARABIA, INDONESIA, AND BAHRAIN BOTH EXPLICITLY AND IMPLICITLY ALLOW THE TARGETING OF SHIA POPULATIONS.”.
    I know about how Saudi Arabia does this.I can figure out how Bahrain does this. I know about how Pakistan does this implicitly. But how does Pakistan allow the targeting of Shia population explicitly, and how does Indonesian governmental policy allow the targeting of Shia population?

    • Pakistan has laws that criminalize the practice of Ahmadiyya Islam. It is part of law and constitution. Anti-Shia elements cite these clauses to include Shias in their Takfeer and demand the same legal restrictions on them. They largely cite the anti-Ahmadi laws as support for their anti-Shia hate agenda. As such, the government does foster all sectarianism when it sanctions one type.

      • “Pakistan has laws that criminalize the practice of Ahmadiyya Islam.”
        Nonsense, anti-Islam propaganda, fitna, lie, rubbish. Shameless straw man deceit.There is no such thing as Ahmadiyya Islam? There is absolute freedom of religion in Pakistan. Be they Christians, Hindoos, Sikhs, whatever they are at full liberty and freedom to practice any religion. However, no one is allowed to malign the religion of others. Pakistan’ Blasphemy Laws are statuated to ensure freedom of religion, that peaceful coexistence and practice of religion freely by all be maintained. That no one be allowed to interfere with the religion of others.
        The only criminal offense is to project and proselytize a fitna created by the British Raj
        1889 as part of their ‘Divide and Rule’ policy. It originated with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908),who funded by the British Empire, proclaimed himself as the
        prophesied ‘Messihia’.
        Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed himself to be a direct blood line descendant of JesusPBUH. Ahmadies have Jesus Christ buried in Indian Occupied Kashmir. His tomb is presided over by the Ahamdies. Mary, mother of Jesus, is buried in Pakistan, in the Himalayas. I have been there but it is kept as a secluded secret away from general public and media so as not to upset the Christian community.
        So if Mirza, and his children, is a direct descendant of Jesus then why not call themselves Ahmadiyya Christians. And since he is also the Avatar of Krishna then why not call themselves Ahmadiyya Hindoos. In any case those who do not believe in the Noble Qur’an and Prophet MuhammadPBUH are by definition NOT Muslims. Ipso Facto the Ahmadiyya are NOT Muslims.
        Pakistan’s Law does NOT criminalize any religion. That is your propaganda slant. That is a lie you are propagating as you climb on the opportunistic Islamaphobic bandwagon in the current War on Islam. Pakistan’s Law criminalizes imposters, fakes and frauds. As it should. As the laws of all countries do.
        You cannot, you will not be allowed to blaspheme the Glorious Qur’an, you will not be allowed to ridicule Prophet MuhammadPBUH, you will NOT mock Allah Almighty in Pakistan. Period!
        Your claim is a mischievous lie. It is malicious, fallacious, trash. Your claim is repudiated, rejected, rubbished.
        Have a nice day, Slummy!

    • Hey Hassaan, thanks for your feedback!
      Pakistan’s history with minority treatment is complex and it involves not only religious influences but geopolitical ones as well. The Deobandi influence during Zia ul-Haq’s reign, for example, had a strong push for blasphemy laws that affected Ahmadi and Shia populations, even including that Ahmadis weren’t Muslim in the constitution at one point. With increased militant and extremist influence, the state’s silence and lack of willingness to crackdown makes it all the more intricate. As a result, Pakistan has become a hostile place for Shia’s, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and LGBT folks.
      In Indonesia, penal codes that allow for blasphemy laws to be applied have really affected the minority Shia population. There are Shia Muslims who are imprisoned on these charges or worse, killed. The government, because the country is largely Sunni with Wahabbi
      influences, uphold these laws. More on this here:
      http://www.shiaresearch.com/Doc/TheShiaMuslimsofIndonesia.pdf
      and here:
      http://shiarightswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Shia_Ethnic_Cleansing_in_Indonesia.pdf

      • “The Deobandi influence during Zia ul-Haq’s reign, for example, had a strong push for blasphemy laws that affected Ahmadi and Shia populations, even including that Ahmadis weren’t Muslim in the constitution at one point.”
        Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws protect ALL religions and belief systems. They ensure that one does not interfere or victimize the other. BTW Ahamadies are NOT Muslims. They themselves say so. The Constitution of Pakistan is NOT forcing them to believe in anything.
        “As a result, Pakistan has become a hostile place for Shia’s, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and LGBT folks.”
        #1. No one notices or concerns themselves with LGBT folk in Pakistan as long as they keep it under wraps, private within their bedroom walls. Laws against lewdness and public exposure are applied equally to homos and heteros, on both groups if they display in public. This law is applied equally and in exactly the same way to the sexual majority as they are to the minority, anomaly.
        #2. How many Shia, Christians, Hindus and Ahamadies been killed by the government of Pakistan? I personally know that a Shia group encircled a Sunni Mosque during Friday prayers and machine gunned the whole lot, including the pesh imam and scriptures. The carnage was horrendous.
        #3. Hindoo temples and Christian Churches are depositories for illicit arms, ammunition, explosives. They are often used as safe houses for RAW, CIA and MI6 Agents. Priests and visiting evangelicals second as spies and agent provocateurs who incite simple uneducated Christian crowds against Muslims and tell them to lie, cheat, fight and die in Jesus name to spread Christianity and blaspheme Muslim sacred icons and scriptures.Transfer of funds from US Churches to Pakistani Churches, I personally am aware of this.
        #4. Pakistan’s Military: The Commander in Chief reports to US CentCom who placed him in that post, superseding more experienced and able officers, in the first place. The demoralization in the army was alarming, approaching mutiny, so many a senior officers were arbitrarily retired, dismissed, imprisoned and hanged.
        #5. To protect the rear of the retreating US forces as they fled beaten and defeated in the battlefield by the Taliban Warriors, Pakistan’s heavy artillery barrages and carpet bombing by Pakistan’s air force demolished four Pakistani towns and dozens of villages and acres of orchards and crops belonging to the elderly parents of Taliban, their families, women, children and relatives who had lived there for centuries.
        This bombardment was started in Ramzan, promised that it will stop on Eid day so that the Warriors can go see their families on Eid. With the cunning expectation that the Taliban would be home to see their families on Eid. With this in mind the massive artillery barrages were started and the air forces unloaded napalm on civilians on Eid day!.
        Over three million people ran into the harsh 45 Celsius Sun without food, water or meds. Thousands of the elderly, women and children expired in the hinterland. Three million Pakistani citizens savaged by their own army under call and coin of the Americans are now stranded under the harsh elements falling victim to the flora, fauna, environment. No Taliban fighter was scratched.
        This industrial slaughter of unarmed Muslims – men, women, children – and the three million dying in internal exile without food water shelter are all Sunni Muslim citizens of Pakistan. They have no where to go. The number Sunni Muslims massacred in Pakistan are in the tens of thousands.
        Your devious Fitna is repudiated.

    • “As a Sunni Muslim, I empathically agree with this excellent piece of writing.
      #1. What is a Sunni Muslim? By what authority are you a Sunni Muslim? References please?
      #2. How is this divisive piece, an obvious motivated Fitna, an “excellent piece of writing”? Why was it even necessary at the present time when Muslims are under the gun, Muslim countries are being demolished, devastated and bombed into the stone age, Islamic Civilization is being set up for total obliteration?

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