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against Shia Muslims
Racism Prejudice Religious persecution Religious conflicts Religious violence Secularism Religious intolerance
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Anti-Shi’ism is the prejudice against or hatred of Shia Muslims based on their religion and heritage. The term was first defined by Shia Rights Watch in 2011, but has been used in formal research and scholarly articles for decades.
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Beliefs and practices
Monotheism Holy Books Prophethood Succession to Muhammad Imamate of the Family Angels Judgement Day Mourning of Muharram Intercession Ismah The Occultation Clergy
The Qur’an Sahaba
Ashura Arba’een Mawlid Eid al-Fitr Eid al-Adha Eid al-Ghadeer Eid al-Mubahila
The verse of purification Two things Mubahala Khumm Fatimah’s house First Fitna Second Fitna The Battle of Karbala Twelver
Muhammad Ali Fatimah Hasan Hussein
List of Shia companions
Fatimah Khadija bint Khuwaylid Umm Salama Zaynab bint Ali
Umm ul-Banin Fatimah bint Hasan Sukayna bint Husayn Rubab Shahrbanu Fātimah bint Mūsā Hakimah Khātūn Narjis Fatimah bint Asad Farwah bint al-Qasim
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The dispute over the right successor to Muhammad resulted in the formation of two main sects, the Sunni, and the Shia. The Sunni, or followers of the way, followed the caliphate and maintained the premise that any devout Muslim could potentially become the successor to the Prophet if accepted by his peers. The Shia however, maintain that only the person selected by God and announced by the Prophet could become his successor, thus Imam Ali became the religious authority for the Shia people. Militarily established and holding control over the Umayyad (pronounced and spelled more like "Umayya" in Arabic) government, many Sunni rulers perceived the Shia as a threat – both to their political and religious authority.
The Sunni rulers under the Umayyads sought to marginalize the Shia minority and later the Abbasids turned on their Shia allies and further imprisoned, persecuted, and killed Shias. The persecution of Shias throughout history by Sunni co-coreligionists has often been characterized by brutal and genocidal acts. Comprising only around 10-15% of the entire Muslim population, to this day, the Shia remain a marginalized community in many Sunni Arab dominant countries without the rights to practice their religion and organize.
The grandson of Muhammad, Imam Hussein, refused to give in to Yazid’s rule. Soon after in 680 C.E., Yazid sent thousands of Umayyad troops to lay siege to Hussein’s caravan.During the Battle of Karbala, after holding off the Umayyad troops for six grueling days, Hussein and his seventy-two companions were massacred, beheaded, and their heads were sent back to the caliph in Damascus. While Imam Hussein’s martydom ended the prospect of a direct challenge to the Umayyad caliphate, it also made it easier for Shiism to gain ground as a form of moral resistance to the Umayyads and their demands.
"Under the peaceful conditions of life at Alexandria, the Greek philosophers certainty could continue their work. The political ferment in the eastern regions, however, was something else. Muawiyah had appointed al-Mughirah ibn-Shuvah as governor of al-Basrah, and when Mughirah died,Yazid became ruler of Arabia, Iraq, and Persia, ruling through a secret service of 4,000 men. The main purpose of these 4,000 was to unmask the Shiites, and bring them to justice, which in this case meant death. So while peace seems to reign in Damascus, the western half of the empire was soon bathed in blood."
The Abbasid caliphs who ruled from Baghdad imprisoned and killed Shia Imams and encouraged Sunni ulama to define Sunni power and contain the appeal of Shiism. The last decades of the tenth century witnessed anti-Shia campaigns in and around Baghdad. Shias were attacked in their mosques and during the day of Ashura processions often being killed or burned alive. In 971 C.E., when Byzantine forces attacked the Abbasid empire, the first response of the caliph’s forces and angry Sunnis was to blame the Shia. Shia homes in Al-Karkh (Modern-day Iraq) were torched. This pattern of behavior became repetitive and was repeated throughout the centuries to present day. The Shia bore the forefront of popular frustrations with the failures of the Sunni rulers. They were usually treated as the enemy within and were the first to come under suspicion if there was a threat to the Sunni establishment. By the middle of the eleventh-century, it became custom for Sunni mobs to loot the Shia town of al-Khakh every Saturday. These anti-Shia attitudes were further propagated by Sunni jurists of the Hanbali school of thought. Hanbalis labeled Shias as rejectors of the truth.
Siege of Baghdad
After the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258, prejudice against Shias became more frequent, reminiscent of blaming Shias for every problem.
Persecution under Seljuk/Ottoman Empire
Main article: Ottoman persecution of Alevis
In response to the growth of Shiism and the growing influence of the Safavids, the Ottoman Empire put Shias to the sword in Anatolia. Thousands of Shias were massacred in the Ottoman Empire, including the Alevis in Turkey, the Alawis in Syria and the Shi’a of Lebanon.
Freedom of religion
Status by country[show]
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Shias in India faced persecution by some Sunni rulers and Mughal Emperors, resulting in the martyrdom of Indian Shia scholars like Qazi Nurullah Shustari (also known as Shaheed-e-Thaalis, the third Martyr) and Mirza Muhammad Kamil Dehlavi (also known as Shaheed-e- Rabay, the fourth Martyr) who are two of the five martyrs of Shia Islam. Shias also faced persecution in India in Kashmir for centuries, by the Sunni invaders of the region which resulted in massacre of many Shias and as a result most of them had to flee the region.
Shias in Kashmir in subsequent years had to pass through the most atrocious period of their history. Plunder, loot and massacres which came to be known as ‘Taarajs’ virtually devastated the community. History records 10 such Taarajs also known as ‘Taraj-e-Shia’ between 15th to 19th century in 1548, 1585, 1635, 1686, 1719, 1741, 1762, 1801, 1830, 1872 during which the Shia habitations were plundered, people slaughtered, libraries burnt and their sacred sites desecrated. Such was the reign of terror during this period that the community widely went into the practice of Taqya in order to preserve their lives and the honor of their womenfolk.
Village after village disappeared, with community members either migrating to safety further north or dissolving in the majority faith. The persecution suffered by Shias in Kashmir during the successive foreign rules was not new for the community. Many of the standard bearers of Shia’ism, like Sa’adaat or the descendants of the Prophet Mohammad and other missionaries who played a key role in spread of the faith in Kashmir, had left their home lands forced by similar situations.
Most foreign slaves in Xinjiang were Shia Ismaili Mountain Tajiks of China. They were referred to by Sunni Turkic Muslims as Ghalcha, and subjected to enslavement because they were different from the Sunni Turkic inhabitants. Shia Muslims were sold as slaves in Khotan. The Muslims of Xinjiang traded Shias as slaves.
Shia are 2% of the population. The rise of Salafi belief has increased hostilities towards Shia, Sufi and Coptic minorities. Four Shia Muslims were killed in the village of Zawyat Abu Musalam "after hardline preaches goaded townspeople into a mob attack."
Malaysia bans Shias from promoting their faith. 16 Shias were arrested on the 24th of September 2013, for "spreading" their faith.
Further information: Human rights in Bahrain
Over two thirds of the citizen population of Bahrain are Shia Muslims. The ruling Al Khalifa family, who are Sunni Muslim, arrived in Bahrain from Qatar at the end of the eighteenth century. Shiites alleged that the Al Khalifa failed to gain legitimacy in Bahrain and established a system of "political apartheid based on racial, sectarian, and tribal discrimination." Vali Nasr, a leading Iranian expert on Middle East and Islamic world said "For Shi’ites, Sunni rule has been like living under apartheid".
An estimated 1000 Bahrainis have been detained since the 2011 uprising and Bahraini and international human rights groups have documented hundreds of cases of torture and abuse of Shia detainees. According to csmonitor.org, the government has gone beyond the crushing of political dissent to what "appears" to be an attempt to "psychologically humiliating the island’s Shiite majority into silent submission."
Discrimination against Shia Muslims in Bahrain is severe and systematic enough for a number of sources (Time magazine, Vali Nasr, Yitzhak Nakash, Counterpunch, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, etc.) to have used the term “apartheid” in describing it.
Ameen Izzadeen writing in the Daily Mirror asserts that
after the dismantling of the apartheid regime in South Africa, Bahrain remained the only country where a minority dictated terms to a majority. More than 70 percent of the Bahrainis are Shiite Muslims, but they have little or no say in the government.
The Christian Science Monitor describes Bahrain as practicing
a form of sectarian apartheid by not allowing Shiites to hold key government posts or serve in the police or military. In fact, the security forces are staffed by Sunnis from Syria, Pakistan, and Baluchistan who also get fast-tracked to Bahraini citizenship, much to the displeasure of the indigenous Shiite population.
On December 29, 2011 in Nangkrenang, Sampang, Madura Island a Shia Islamic boarding school, a school adviser house and a school’s principal house have been burned by local villagers and people from outside. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world which is dominated by Sunni. A day after the persecution, a Jakarta Sunni preacher said:"It was their own fault. They have established a pesantren (Islamic school) in a Sunni area. Besides, being a Shiite is a big mistake. The true teaching is Sunni and God will only accept Sunni Muslims. If the shiites want to live in peace, they have to repent and convert." Amnesty International had recorded many cases of intimidation and violence against religious minorities in Indonesia by Radical Islamic groups and urged the Indonesian government to provide protection for hundred of Shiites who have been forced to return to their village in East Java.
See also: Sectarian violence in Pakistan
Pakistan has been seeing a surge in violence against Shia Muslims in the country in recent years. The violence has claimed lives of thousands of men, women and children. Shia make up at least 20% of the total population in Pakistan and come from different ethnic backgrounds. Doctors, businessmen and other professionals have been targeted in Karachi by Sunni Muslim militants on a regular basis. Hazara people in Quetta, have lost nearly 800 community members. Most of them have fallen victim to terrorist attacks by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan which is a Sunni Muslim militant organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Taliban. In the northern areas of Pakistan, such as Parachinar and Gilgit-Baltistan, Muslim mitants have continuously been attacking and killing Shiites. In the most recent incident on August 16, 2012, some 25 Shia passengers were pulled out of four buses on Babusar road, when they were going home to celebrate Eid with their families. They were summarily executed by Al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni Muslim militants. On the same day, three Hazara community members were shot dead in Pakistan’s southwestern town of Quetta. It is genocide, massacre of shias in Pakistan in a systematic way. Sunni extremists, aligned with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, are killing Shias by the hundreds in Pakistan. Now It is continue in other parts of country widely in especially in Karachi, Lahore, Bhakkar etc.
See also: 2011–2012 Saudi Arabian protests
In modern day Saudi Arabia, the Salafi rulers limit Shia political participation to a game of notables. These notables benefit from their ties to power and in turn, are expected to control their community. Saudi Shias comprise roughly 15% of the 28 million Saudis (estimate 2012). Although some live in Medina (known as the Nakhawila), Mecca, and even Riyadh, the majority are concentrated in the oases of al-Hasa and Qatif in the oil-rich areas of the Eastern Province. For years, they have faced religious and economic discrimination. They have usually been denounced as heretics, traitors, and non-Muslims. Shias were accused of sabotage, most notably for bombing oil pipelines in 1988. A number of Shias were even executed. In response to Iran’s militancy, the Saudi government collectively punished the Shia community in Saudi Arabia by placing restrictions on their freedoms and marginalizing them economically. Wahabi ulama were given the green light to sanction violence against the Shia. What followed were fatwas passed by the country’s leading cleric, Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz which denounced the Shias as apostates. Another by Adul-Rahman al-Jibrin, a member of the Higher Council of Ulama even sanctioned the killing of Shias. This call was reiterated in Wahabi religious literature as late as 2002.
Unlike Iraq and Lebanon which have a sizable number of wealthy Shia, Saudi Arabia has nothing resembling Shia elite of any kind. There have been no Shia cabinet ministers. They are kept 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 Shia girls’ schools in the Eastern Province has a Shia principal.
The government has restricted the names that Shias can use for their children in an attempt to discourage them from showing their identity. Saudi textbooks, criticized for their anti-Semitism, are equally hostile to Shiism often characterizing the faith as a form of heresy worse than Christianity and Judaism. Wahabi teachers frequently tell classrooms full of young Shia schoolchildren that they are heretics.
In the town of Dammam, a quarter of whose residents are Shia Ashura is banned, and there is no distinctly Shia call to prayer. There is no Shia cemetery for the nearly quarter of the 600,000 Shias that live there. There is only one mosque for the town’s 150,000 Shias. The Saudi government has often been viewed as an active oppressor of Shias because of the funding of the Wahabi ideology which denounces the Shia faith.
In March 2011, police opened fire on protesters in Qatif, and after Shia unrest in October 2011 the Saudi government promised to crushed any further trouble in the eastern province with "an iron fist."
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are spearheading an anti-Shia campaign that threatens to inflame the whole Islamic world in the Middle East and beyond. According to the Independent, "Satellite television, internet, YouTube and Twitter content, frequently emanating from or financed by oil states in the Arabian peninsula, are at the centre of a campaign to spread sectarian hatred to every corner of the Muslim world, including places where Shia are a vulnerable minority, such as Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Malaysia."
Saudi Arabia is often accused of practicing apartheid against its Shia citizens. Mohammad Taqi writes that
The Saudi regime is also acutely aware that, in the final analysis, the Shiite grievances are not merely doctrinal issues but stem from socioeconomic deprivation, as a result of religious repression and political marginalization bordering on apartheid.
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