Archive for March, 2011

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)

March 2, 2011

Islamists in Pakistan kill the only Christian Minister in government

Islamists in Pakistan kill the only Christian Minister in government

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Shahbaz Bhatti was killed by Islamists in Pakistan 
Shahbaz Bhatti was killed by Islamists in Pakistan

Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian who had a ministerial position in the government of Pakistan.  He was the Federal Minority Minister and Shahbaz Bhatti was an outspoken critic of the dreaded blasphemy law. 

Therefore, according to Sunni Islamic militants he was an enemy because in their eyes they want all non-Muslim minorities and moderate Muslims to be cowed by Islamic Sharia law.  However, Shahbaz Bhatti was fighting for justice and religious and political freedom because Sunni Islamic militants and the laws of Pakistan discriminate against non-Muslims and anybody who is outspoken. 

The murder of Shahbaz Bhatti is a grim reminder of the nature of modern day Pakistan and how this nation is based on not only hatred from Sunni Islamists but also institutional hatred.  Shahbaz Bhatti was fighting against Islamic militants, political institutions, the laws of Pakistan and ordinary Muslims who support the rule of fear in this nation.  Therefore, his enemies, and others who have spoken out against religious discrimination and the blasphemy law, face major intimidation and institutional discrimination within the body politic of Pakistan.

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, the President of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), condemned the brutal murder of Shahbaz Bhatti and Nazir S Bhatti also raises important questions related to the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti.

Nazir S Bhatti comments that “It is surprising that Shahbaz Bhatti was heading for Cabinet meeting without any security staff when it was the responsibility of government to issue directives to security staff that Shahbaz Bhatti escort may be always present with him.”

Another point raised by Nazir S Bhatti was also related to security because it was clear knowledge that Shahbaz Bhatti faced death because of countless death threats by Islamic militants.  Despite this, Nazir S Bhatti and others were alarmed that he was not given a bullet proof car in order to provide him with greater protection.  After all, all other federal and state ministers were protected to a much greater extent because they were given bullet proof cars.

Nazir S Bhatti stated that “Shahbaz Bhatti is our martyr and will be ever remembered as martyr of Blasphemy law………..”

However, it does appear to be strange that security was so lax because it was apparent that Shahbaz Bhatti was “a sitting duck” given the lack of security.  Therefore, the Islamists ambushed his car with impunity and killed him in broad daylight in Islamabad.

It is also abundantly clear that democracy and religious liberty is seen to be on the back-foot because the rule of fear is spreading throughout Pakistan and the government seems powerless to either protect government ministers or the general public.  Also, moderates within the government of Pakistan are paying with their blood because earlier this year Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, was also killed in cold blood because he also opposed the draconian and brutal blasphemy law.

In my article called Pakistan Must Abolish the Blasphemy Law I highlight the mass injustice of the blasphemy law. 

I stated that The nation of Pakistan faces many internal problems and minorities reside in fear because political leaders have been in self destruct mode. This applies to the role of Pakistan in fostering and spreading radical Sunni Islam to regional nations. At the same time the internal legal system is openly espousing hatred and creating mayhem by maintaining the blasphemy law.”

I continued by stating that “Yet the real tragedy for minorities in Pakistan, irrespective if Christian, Shia Muslim, Ahmadiyya Muslim, Hindu, or whatever; is that minorities face systematic persecution at the hands of both radical Sunni Islamists and the central government.”

Turning back to the brutal murder of Shahbaz Bhatti then a neighbor stated that “The minister had only one car. There was no security, no police at that time. After the incident happened, the police came.”

It is therefore not inconceivable to believe that elements within the security apparatus of Pakistan were either covertly behind this or that Shahbaz Bhatti did not matter?  Either way, it appears that his Christian blood was deemed to be cheap?

Like usual, this brutal murder was celebrated by Islamists because Ansanullah Ahsan, who is a deputy spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab, commented that “This man was a known blasphemer of the Prophet [Muhammad]“ and “We will continue to target all those who speak against the law which punishes those who insult the prophet. Their fate will be the same.”

Therefore, for people who support religious freedom and liberty it is yet another “black day” in Pakistan.  However, for Islamic militants it is a time to rejoice because they have killed in the name of Allah.  Therefore, the heart and soul of Pakistan is being tested to the full and this nation faces the abyss of constant brutality and despite all the Western economic aid to Pakistan, nothing is changing apart from more Islamization.

http://moderntokyotimes.com

Please check http://pakistanchristianpost.com because this website highlights the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan and also moderate Muslims who are suffering at the hands of dark forces in Pakistan.