Posts tagged ‘sunni-shia divide’

March 30, 2011

The persecution of the Shia in Yemen and the regional Sunni-Shia divide

The persecution of the Shia in Yemen and the regional Sunni-Shia divide 

Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

Shia children killed in Yemen
Shia children killed in Yemen

Currently you have many political and religious convulsions throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  However, for the Shia of Yemen it is apparent that the nation state of Yemen is at odds with many Shia Muslims who suffer systematic persecution.

Saudi Arabia is worried about the power base change in Iraq because after the demise of Saddam Hussein the Arab Sunni stranglehold was broken and now the main power brokers are the Shia and Kurds in the north.  Therefore, recent political tensions in Bahrain and Yemen are causing alarm in Saudi Arabia because the leaders of this nation desire to preserve a dominant Sunni political power structure throughout the region.

If we focus on Afghanistan then the Sunni Islamic fanatics of the Taliban and Al Qaeda shared the same Sunni Islamic theme of power and control.  This policy of victimizing and persecuting the Shia was factual and you had many massacres of the Shia by the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda before the invasion of Afghanistan.

Sunni Islamic extremists deem the Shia to be heretics and non-Muslim and the same hatred towards the Shia can be found in Pakistan.  Even in so-called moderate Malaysia the government is anti-Shia. However, unlike the massacres of the Shia which have taken place in other nations it is state sanctioned discrimination in Malaysia which holds the Shia at bay and forbids their religious buildings.

The Sunni-Shia issue is very potent and the Shia are second class citizens in Saudi Arabia because they face centralized policies which discriminate against them.  Therefore, Saudi Arabia is meddling in many nations and the people who suffer from this policy are the Shia and in Yemen many massacres have taken place in the past but most of these went unreported.

Also, while truces have been agreed upon in Yemen these truces rarely last and often it appears that the centralized state is just making the most of the breathing space in order to unleash more violence against the Shia minority.

James Haider, Middle East correspondent for The Times (UK), stated on November 5, 2009, that the Shia “…accuse Saudi Arabia, a conservative Sunni Muslim country, of backing the Yemeni army, fearing the emergence of a strong Shia militia similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon.” 

“In turn, the Yemeni Government in Sanaa has accused Iran, a Shia theocracy, of supporting the Huthi rebels as part of a campaign to spread Tehran’s influence across the region. The Government said last week that Yemeni troops had seized five Iranians on a boat loaded with arms in the Red Sea”. 

James Haider also comments about the fleeing Shia during a major military assault in late 2009.  This military assault led to 150,000 Shia Muslims fleeing their homes in order to escape the military clampdown against their community.

The military bombardments led to the killing of many innocent Shia Muslims who were caught up in the fighting.  Therefore, many civilians were killed and the blood flowed.

If we concentrate on the bigger picture it would appear that Sunni Islamic elites do not desire to build bridges with the followers of the Shia faith.  Instead the Sunni Islamic elites desire either the status quo or to maintain power by further marginalizing the Shia throughout the region.

Rannie Amiri’s, whose article was published in the weekend edition of Counterpunch, (Feb 19-21, 2010) called The Shia Crescent Revisited, commented that “Should the Arab Shia be prohibited from freely airing their grievances and demanding accountability for past injustices? Stopped from speaking out against the crimes perpetrated against them under Saddam (in which many in the Arab world were complicit)? Prevented from attempting to lift the heavy hand of institutionalized discrimination levied against them in Saudi Arabia? Barred from seeking an end to their disenfranchisement in Bahrain – where they make up at least 70 percent of the population yet constitute no part of the government or security services? Forbidden from asking why the language of sectarianism was used to justify and amplify the carnage in north Yemen?” 

It is a fair question and despite the “Iranian card” which is being manipulated and used in Saudi Arabia it is apparent that the global jihadist network is based on the followers of radical Sunni Islam.  After all, the terrorist attacks behind September 11, Madrid, Kenya, Bali, Uganda, and other global jihadist attacks, were all done by Sunni Islamic extremists.

Despite the Mahdi Army under Muqtada al-Sadr who attacked American forces in Iraq; it is clear that the Shia in Afghanistan and Iraq have gained from outside military forces taking action against Sunni Islamic zealots in Afghanistan and against the regime of Saddam Hussein which also played the anti-Shia card. 

Therefore, will Yemen become the next brutal war which will drag in outside forces and lead to the growth of radical Sunni Islam?  After all, it is clear that the al-Shabaab in Somalia desire to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist nation and this extremist Sunni Islamic organization often beheads the followers of Christianity and women also face being stoned to death for adultery.

The Somalia syndrome may happen in Yemen because it is obvious that outside Sunni Islamists have used Somalia in order to spread their version of Islam.  However, for the Shia of Yemen then they may face a “dual policy” whereby Sunni Islamic fanatics are allowed to enter the fray from many nations but at the same time the centralized state in Saudi Arabia will boost the nation state of Yemen.

Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, February 11, 2010, stated that “Even as it fights a U.S.-supported war against al-Qaeda militants here, the Yemeni government is engaging Islamist extremists who share an ideology similar to Osama bin Laden’s in its own civil war, adding new complications to efforts to fight terrorism.” 

The writer continues by stating that “Yemen’s army is allying with radical Sunnis and former jihadists in the fight against Shiite rebels in the country’s north. The harsh tactics of those forces, such as destroying Shiite mosques and building Sunni ones, are breeding resentment among many residents, analysts said, and given the tangle of evolving allegiances could build support for al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, which plotted the Christmas Day attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner.”  

Abdel-Karim al-Iriyani, a former prime minister is clearly alarmed by current events in Yemen.  He states that “Using these extremist people, if they are with you today, they are prone to be against you tomorrow.”

Therefore, the Shia inYemen will continue to suffer and Western nations will do little to challenge Saudi Arabia and the same applies to Bahrain because Saudi Arabia will do everything it can in order to prop-up the Sunni elites.

Saudi Arabia will use any means possible in order to preserve Sunni Muslim power and this also applies to state sanctioned policies which will encourage the forces of radical Sunni Islam in Yemen and boosting the military of Yemen. Therefore, the Shia in Yemen will be attacked by Sunni Islamic militant organizations and by the military of Yemen and this dual policy will be used in order to crush the Shia but in the past the Shia have been tenacious and events are unpredictable.

http://www.moderntokyotimes.com  (please visit)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuJvqPuU-64&feature=related   (military action in Yemen)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G132BS3Lzno   (Attacks against the Shia)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHiTUbZ7o-k&feature=related  (Attacks against the Shia)

September 14, 2010

Yemen and ongoing persecution of the Shia

Yemen and ongoing persecution of the Shia

Lee Jay Walker

The Modern Tokyo Times

Shia children killed in Yemen
Shia children killed in Yemen
 
Shia child killed in Yemen
Shia child killed in Yemen
—————————————————

In Afghanistan the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda massacred many Shia Muslims and the same happened in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.  Sunni Islamists clearly have little respect for their co-religionists and some Sunni Islamic organizations claim that Shia Muslims are heretics and this hatred can be seen in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other nations where you have Sunni-Shia tensions. 

The current crisis in Yemen is clearly under-reported and many massacres have taken place against Shia Muslims.  In the following link it clearly shows you the deaths of many innocent Shia Muslims and this applies to many young children who were killed during the chaos in this nation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ivAeaVfILY&feature=related ) before a fragile truce was agreed in early 2010 (broken many times in the past).   

Therefore, just what is happening in Yemen and what is the role of the central government?  Also, if you have so much hatred within the House of Islam then what hope for non-Muslim minorities in mainly Muslim nations?

James Haider, Middle East correspondent for The Times (UK), stated on November 5, 2009, that the Shia “…accuse Saudi Arabia, a conservative Sunni Muslim country, of backing the Yemeni army, fearing the emergence of a strong Shia militia similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

“In turn, the Yemeni Government in Sanaa has accused Iran, a Shia theocracy, of supporting the Huthi rebels as part of a campaign to spread Tehran’s influence across the region. The Government said last week that Yemeni troops had seized five Iranians on a boat loaded with arms in the Red Sea”.

James Haider continues by stating that 150,000 people had been forced to flee the government offensive in late 2009. This applies to land and aerial bombardments and clearly many innocent civilians have been killed.

If we look at the bigger picture and take away current militias or organizations or terrorist networks in Yemen and throughout the Muslim world, irrespective if Shia or Sunni, or from the sub-divisions within both groups; then it becomes clear that the Shia have been marginalized for centuries.  Therefore, do traditional Sunni power mechanisms just desire the status quo rather than bridging the gap and does this hatred within the House of Islam spill over to other non-Muslim minorities?

Rannie Amiri’s, whose article was published in the weekend edition of Counterpunch, (Feb 19-21, 2010) called The Shia Crescent Revisited, commented that “Should the Arab Shia be prohibited from freely airing their grievances and demanding accountability for past injustices? Stopped from speaking out against the crimes perpetrated against them under Saddam (in which many in the Arab world were complicit)? Prevented from attempting to lift the heavy hand of institutionalized discrimination levied against them in Saudi Arabia? Barred from seeking an end to their disenfranchisement in Bahrain – where they make up at least 70 percent of the population yet constitute no part of the government or security services? Forbidden from asking why the language of sectarianism was used to justify and amplify the carnage in north Yemen?”

It is a fair question and another question must be added and this applies to the global terrorist faith which was behind September 11th, Kenya, London, Madrid, Bali, Uganda, and a host of other terrorist attacks which have hit so many nations.  Were these Islamists following the Shia faith or the Sunni faith?

The answer is obvious because all these terrorist attacks were done in the name of radical Sunni Islam.  After all, Shia Muslims were not behind any of these attacks and the same applies to other Muslim groups like the Ahmadiyya and Alevi who are not involved in terrorism. On the contrary, the Ahmadiyya and Alevi suffer terrible persecution at the hands of Sunni Islamic extremists in their native lands and from the central government.

Even in Afghanistan and Iraq it is clear that Sunni Islamists and terrorist groups are the main problem because forces within the Shia have been much more accommodating.  Yes, followers of Muqtada al-Sadr who is a Shia leader in Iraq and who supported the Mahdi Army taking on American forces, is a rare exception but on the whole it is the forces of Sunni Islam which are behind the vast majority of the carnage in both nations.

Turning back to Yemen, then is this the next brutal war which will drag in outside forces and lead to the growth of radical Sunni Islam?  After all, it is clear that the al-Shabaab in Somalia desire to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist nation. It is also abundantly clear that Arab Sunni Muslims are behind this fanatical terrorist organization which beheads Christians and stones women to death for adultery or when women are raped but are blamed.

The linkage between the al-Shabaab in Somalia and radical Sunni Islamic organizations and terrorist networks in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other nations, is obvious.  After all, you only have to look at the dress code and the way of thinking because everything is Arabized and Sufi Muslims now face persecution at the hands of radical Sunni Islamists but for Christians it is a complete witch-hunt and brutal beyond words.

Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, February 11, 2010, stated that “Even as it fights a U.S.-supported war against al-Qaeda militants here, the Yemeni government is engaging Islamist extremists who share an ideology similar to Osama bin Laden’s in its own civil war, adding new complications to efforts to fight terrorism.”

The writer continues by stating that Yemen’s army is allying with radical Sunnis and former jihadists in the fight against Shiite rebels in the country’s north. The harsh tactics of those forces, such as destroying Shiite mosques and building Sunni ones, are breeding resentment among many residents, analysts said, and given the tangle of evolving allegiances could build support for al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, which plotted the Christmas Day attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner.”

However, America should be worried about this because America, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other nations, used radical Sunni Islam in order to topple communism during the Cold War in Afghanistan.  Yet, just like the ongoing crisis in Pakistan, it is clear that obtaining radical Sunni Islamic support is a dangerous game because one day these very same Islamic jihadists will turn against their original masters in order to spread their global Islamic jihad and nations in the Horn of Africa, notably Ethiopia, must be watching events with great alarm and fear.

Abdel-Karim al-Iriyani, a former prime minister is clearly alarmed by current events in Yemen.  He states that “Using these extremist people, if they are with you today, they are prone to be against you tomorrow.”

At the same time it is clear that the Shia are being victimized by central forces and with radical Sunni Islamists and Saudi Arabia joining the fray, then fresh massacres and greater alienation will take place if the truce breaks down in Yemen.  Therefore, the future looks bleak for the Shia in Yemen and while extremists exist within the Shia community in this nation, it is clear that innocent Shia civilians are seen to be expendable.

It is clear that this is going to add to the Sunni-Shia divide throughout the entire region and stretching all the way to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This internal hatred is also infringing on how Sunni Islamists view non-Muslim minorities because daily attacks are taking place. Also, Sunni dominated governments are implementing draconian laws in order to oppress non-Muslim minorities and Muslim minorities like the Ahmadiyya who are suffering in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

Given this, Sunni dominated leaders and elites are mainly concerned about preserving their power base over the Shia and this hatred and marginalization also spreads to all non-Muslim minority groups. 

Therefore, apostates face severe persecution in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Somalia, and this applies to state sanctioned laws and terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Somalia who behead apostates who convert to Christianity or any other non-Muslim faith. 

To radical Sunni Islamists it is clear that non-Muslims and the Shia are both viewed to be infidels and worthy of killing.  For example, when Raed Mansour al-Banna from Jordan did a suicide bombing in Iraq which killed 125 people he was deemed to be a Muslim martyr.  This in itself implies that the Shia are worthy of killing in the eyes of Sunni Islamists in order to meet virgins in the Muslim heaven after waging jihad and killing innocents.

Therefore, will the Shia be protected from a fresh onslaught in Yemen if the current truce breaks down?  If, and which is most likely, their plight is ignored then hatred will spread deeper and this hatred will be aimed at Muslims and non-Muslims.

If the House of Islam can shed the blood of their own on the grounds of sectarianism then clearly non-Muslims are going to face the consequences of this hatred.  At the same time, greater marginalization of Shia religious minorities in nations like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and many others, will only lead to more despotism and more persecution of all minority religious groups.

The Islamic faith fears equality, religious freedom, and the separation of mosque and central state.  After this, the Islamic faith fears internal infidels and the Shia are deemed to be infidels in the House of Sunni Islam and Sunni Muslims also use the same mantra against the Ahmadiyya community. 

Naturally, this hatred of diversity within the House of Islam also applies to that of non-Muslims and this can be seen by the brutal reality of modern day Somalia. Yes, another brutal nation where the Sunni al-Shabaab hunts down Christians and then beheads them slowly while shouting their allegiance to Allah.

Therefore, internal Islamic hatred is being whipped up against all notions of diversity and non-Muslims are suffering terrible persecution, alongside the persecution of Shia Muslims. This applies to the persecution of Assyrian Christians, Coptic Christians, Shabaks, Mandaeans, Yazidis, and other religious minorities.

However, coverage of dead Shia children in Yemen was rarely shown before the current truce which began in early 2010. The same applies to the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, Assyrian Christians in Iraq, and Christians in Pakistan, who are also marginalized and persecuted.

All these areas are mainly being hidden by national governments and the mass media in order to foster the Sunni Muslim agenda of preserving power. Therefore, draconian laws which infringe upon all minorities are being implemented in the majority of Sunni dominated nations.

Given this, the internal hatred within the House of Islam and the preservation of Sunni political power is being whipped up against all outsiders, irrespective if against Shia Muslims or non-Muslims.   

Lee Jay Walker

http://themoderntokyotimes.wordpress.com

http://islamicpersecution.wordpress.com

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