Saturday, January 02, 2010

Shia in KSA, our "ally"

'In modern day Saudi Arabia, the Wahabi 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.[8] Saudi Shias are a minority comprising only about 10-15%, about 2 million, of the some 20 million Saudi population.[9] 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 because they’re viewed as Iranian puppets. 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.[9]

Unlike Iraq and Lebanon which hold sizable Shia wealthy, 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]'

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