Saudi winter in the Middle East and Hamas militants’ attack on Shia Muslims in Gaza

by admin

Related post: What Arab Spring? This is Saudi Winter! – by Abdul Basit

Shia Muslims across the world are feeling increasingly nervous and lonely – The Economist

There is only a tiny proportion of Shia Muslims in the Gaza Strip, the slice of Palestine run by Hamas, a branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, which recently emerged as a majority party in Egypt’s parliament. Even so, Hamas security men wielding clubs stormed a private gathering of some 25 Shias held to mark the end of the 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein’s death (Arbaeen or Chehlum), sending several to hospital. This was despite Iran’s being a notable patron of Gaza’s Islamist rulers (Hamas).

Egypt’s small Shia community has also felt a chill Sunni wind. On Ashura, Egyptian police forced hundreds of Shias to abandon a ceremony at the Mosque of Hussein in Cairo, where the Shia martyr’s severed head is said to be buried. A government official said that a stop had been put to their “barbaric rituals” so as to protect them from attack by angered citizens.

Worse may be expected in Syria, where a regime dominated by Alawites, a branch of Shia Islam, is failing to suppress an uprising largely led by pro-Saudi Wahhabi groups. The mixed city of Homs has already witnessed hate speech against and attacks on Shia Muslims. Anti-Shia propaganda videos are common on the internet, such as this one (listen to the mullah’s speech at 4:20):

This Ashura (10 Muharram), which fell on December 5th, bombs killed some 30 Shias in Iraq. Bombers struck again in Iraq on January 10th, killing 19 Shias. Five days later a huge bomb in the Iraqi port city of Basra killed 53.

There are similar vicious echoes in the small Gulf state of Bahrain, where the minority Sunni government last year bloodily crushed an uprising led by the majority Shia with the help of Wahhabi / Deobanid mercenaries hired from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

In the week beginning 16 January thousands of people – activists say tens of thousands – took to the streets of Awwamiya in the eastern province to commemorate the death of Issam Muhammad Abu Abdallah, aged 22. He had been shot by Saudi security forces on the night of 12 January. (Source)

Another outlying danger zone is Yemen, where the large Zaydi Shia community, already in open revolt in the north of the country, faces threats from virulently chauvinist Sunni Wahhabi groups, including al-Qaeda. Shia rebels in Yemen recently described the capture of Radaa, a town in the south, by al-Qaeda forces, who declared it an Islamic emirate, as an American-Saudi plot to foment schism and weaken Islam. (Source)

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Shia group attacked by Hamas police in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A group of Shiite worshipers say masked police of Hamas rulers violently raided a religious service in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, prompting furious denials by the Hamas-dominated government in the territory.

Around 20 followers of the Shia branch of Islam were performing a ceremony for Ashura, the commemoration of the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, when masked police stormed the private home in Beit Lahiya, they told Palestinian human rights groups.

Security officers beat the worshipers with clubs, and took them for interrogation at a police station where they were further assaulted, they told the Gaza-headquartered Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Several sustained fractures and bruises from the beating and were taken to Balsam and Kamal Odwan hospitals, PCHR said.

The Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said that upon leaving hospital, they were handed notifications to go to the interior security headquarters in northern Gaza.

A Shiite man, who asked to be referred to as M. M., told Ma’an on Sunday “to be assaulted by Hamas security is outrageous because we are not against the law, we respect it.”

“These rites concern freedom of religion … we are Muslims like all the people in Gaza.”

The Shia will continue exercising their religious rites, which they are proud of, he said.

Another Shiite man, using the name Abu Zeinab, said security forces dispersed the religious ceremony after alleging it did not have the proper license, but denied the group were assaulted.

Hamas officials initially refused to comment on the matter, and said Sunday they considered the account to be a fabrication by Ma’an.

On Monday, the Gaza interior ministry published a press statement denying the account relayed by human rights groups.

“Police tracked an illegal group with corrupted views that were planning to commit crimes,” the ministry said in its version of the Saturday night raid.

The ministry also said Palestine is a Sunni country where Shiism does not exist.

“We respect all the doctrines around the world, especially the Shiite school, and we don’t intervene in what they believe and we don’t want them to intervene in our beliefs as well,” the statement said.

While vowing to study allegations of human rights abuse, the interior ministry warned human rights groups to consult official sources and not believe just any account of events. The ministry also called on the media to work for positive national goals.

PCHR urged the Gaza government to open an investigation into “the use of excessive force by the security officers … and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The raid broke Palestinian laws on freedom of belief and expression, and a prohibition on raiding private homes without a judicial order, Al Mezan said.

Meanwhile, M. M. told Ma’an that Shiites would “complain about Hamas to Iran, which supports the movement in Gaza.”

Abu Zeinab complained that Iran did not offer sufficient support for Shiites in Gaza. While the Shia are harassed by Hamas, they faced worse suppression under Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority rule prior to the 2007 split between the governments, he added.

Hamas premier in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh is due to visit Iran in early February. The Sunni group is believed to receive considerable support from the Shia power, but the uprising in Syria, Iran’s regional ally, has strained their historic ties. (Source)

A man who described himself as a Shia Muslim said police burst into a house where followers were marking Arbaeen, commemorating the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

The man said about 15 worshippers were beaten and detained. He declined to be identified, fearing further harassment.

But some of the men filed complaints to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, which both sharply condemned Hamas over the attack.

Mezan said in a statement that during Saturday evening’s incident in the town of Beit Lahia, police smashed up the apartment, broke the bones of seven of the men, detained some of them at a police station and beat them again before sending them to a military hospital for treatment.

“The attack is a violation of the freedom … to practise one’s faith,” Samir Zakout, a Mezan official, said.

Ihab Ghussein, a Hamas interior ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday that police stormed the apartment of a group of “outlaws” who were planning “criminal acts”.

He also said he was unaware of the presence of any Shia Muslims in Gaza and that his offices would look into right groups’ allegations that the men were beaten.

There are no official statistics on the number of Gaza’s Shia Muslims. They are believed to number several dozen – a minuscule minority among a population of 1.6 million people who are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim. (Source)

In the meanwhile, blind, Iranian-influenced mullahs of Pakistan keep praising Hamas:

17 Responses to “Saudi winter in the Middle East and Hamas militants’ attack on Shia Muslims in Gaza”

  1. Saudi Arabia: the Middle East’s most under-reported conflict
    Shia protesters, demanding long overdue and promised reforms, are bearing the brunt of a security crackdown

    Toby Matthiesen
    guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 January

    As the British prime minister, David Cameron, visited Riyadh in mid-January, wooing Saudi business and strengthening bilateral relations, a young Shia man in the eastern province was shot dead.

    Following the kingdom’s huge arms deal with the United States, Cameron apparently wanted to persuade the Saudis to buy Typhoon Eurofighters. His visit was a slap in the face for protesters, who are demanding human rights and more of a say in their country’s affairs.

    In the week beginning 16 January thousands of people – activists say tens of thousands – took to the streets of Awwamiya in the eastern province to commemorate the death of Issam Muhammad Abu Abdallah, aged 22. He had been shot by Saudi security forces on the night of 12 January.

    According to the interior ministry, the security forces were defending themselves after a police car had been attacked. Activists and local Shia news websites acknowledge that the police were attacked, but argue that the police used force indiscriminately. Issam’s funeral turned into a large rally at which emotions ran high and anti-government slogans were chanted.

    These events are just the latest episodes in one of the Middle East’s most under-reported conflicts. Last year, Shia citizens in the eastern province took to the streets just days after the uprising started in neighbouring Bahrain on 14 February. Their protests were largely peaceful and they were hoping that Saudis in other areas would join them on a planned “day of rage” in March.

    This day passed without major demonstrations, even in Shia areas, as the Shia protesters had allegedly been told their grievances would be addressed if they stayed at home. Those promises were never fulfilled, however, and the state chose to arrest the leaders of the demonstrations over the summer, further inflaming the situation.

    Instead of using such repression, the regime should have addressed the grievances of the protesters, including the release of political prisoners. The Saudi Shia minority, mainly located in the eastern province, has long complained of discrimination in government employment and business, as well as restriction of religious practices. Initially, the protesters were not calling for the downfall of the monarchy but as repression intensified (demonstrations are illegal in Saudi Arabia) some did and also started attacking the security forces.

    In October, shootings were reported between security forces and armed men outside a police station in Awwamiya. The town, which has for decades been a hotspot of Shia opposition, has since been in a virtual state of lockdown, and now seems to have started an uprising – the “intifada of dignity”, as activists have called it.

    Weekly and sometimes daily protests occurred in the villages of Qatif governorate and in late November and early December the first Shia were killed. When four young Shia were shot dead over the course of a few days, their funerals turned into the biggest demonstrations the eastern province had witnessed in three decades. The spiral of protest, killings and burials that was so crucial in galvanising protest in other countries such as Syria and Bahrain was set in motion. Particularly in a rural and suburban context, most people in a neighbourhood will know the deceased and therefore come out to his burial.

    The Saudi regime seems prepared to crush these protests with an iron fist. It does not want to concede to Shia demands out of fear that other constituencies and regions might present similar demands. But this seems a very short-sighted strategy, as evidence from other Arab uprisings suggests. Online activists have already developed a mythology around the five “martyrs” and if there are more, this will probably galvanise protests rather than stifle them.

    In addition, Awwamiya boasts a cleric who has taken the lead in this uprising and speaks bluntly against the government. Nimr al-Nimr was long a peripheral figure in the local Shia power struggle but now seems to have become the most popular Saudi Shia cleric among local youth. He denounced a list of 23 wanted Shia protesters that was issued by the interior ministry earlier this month. Although some have since turned themselves in or been arrested, most are still in hiding.

    Meanwhile, several hundred residents of Awwamiya have signed a petition demanding an independent investigation into the recent shootings. Findings of an earlier promised investigation into the four deaths were not published. There is also a danger that the protesters will use violence as a tactic when they do not see any gains from peaceful protests. On 14 January, a police car in Qatif was shot at, injuring some policemen. Although it is not clear that these incidents are connected, weapons abound in the kingdom.

    The Saudi regime is playing with fire and its western backers are standing by idly. But it would be in the interest of all parties if the regime made major concessions, not only to its Shia citizens but to the rest of the population. For western countries, the more people are killed the more difficult it will be to defend the strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/23/saudi-arabia-shia-protesters

  2. Shi’a protester killed by security forces in Saudi Arabia, activists say
    14 JANUARY 2012 158 VIEWS ONE COMMENT BY: BNO NEWS

    RIYADH (BNO NEWS) — At least one person was killed and three others were injured when clashes erupted between security forces and Shia protesters in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, activists said on late Friday.

    According to reports, 22-year-old Issam Muhammad Ali Abu Abdullah was shot dead and three others were wounded during a protest on Thursday evening in the town of Awwamiya. The Ministry of Interior said the protester was killed during an exchange of gunfire between security forces and individuals who had attacked them with Molotov cocktails.

    Sources in the area told Amnesty International that Issam Mohammad Ali Abu Abdullah was killed by multiple bullets which were fired by security forces. Protesters were calling for the release of political prisoners and an end to discrimination against the Shi’a minority in the Kingdom.

    “This is the latest of several disturbing protester deaths in Saudi Arabia in the last couple of months,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The need to immediately launch an independent investigation into the death of Issam Abu Abdullah is underlined by the fact that investigations that were announced into previous protester deaths in similar incidents do not appear to have gone anywhere,” he added.

    In November 2011, four members of the Shi’a minority were killed by security forces in three separate incidents in the al-Qatif region, three of them during protests. Sources told Amnesty International that riot police opened fire on the protesters, while the Saudi Ministry of Interior said security forces had come under fire from “aggressors.”

    Since February 2011, when sporadic demonstrations began amid uprisings in other countries, the Saudi Arabian government has been cracking down on protesters, mostly Shi’a Muslims in the restive Eastern Province. More than 300 people have been detained.

    (Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

    http://channel6newsonline.com/2012/01/shia-protester-killed-by-security-forces-in-saudi-arabia-activists-say/

  3. Over 40 killed in sectarian clashes in Yemen
    25/1/2012

    At least 46 people have been killed and dozens injured in clashes between Houthi-led Shia rebels and pro-government Sunni Salafi gunmen in the northwestern Yemeni governorate of Hajjah, assistant head of Hajjah security department Atif Sulaiman told IRIN.

    Yemeni independent news website Barakish.net has also reported on the fighting and deaths which occurred there over the past couple of days.

    “Houthi gunmen continue to increase their dominance over several areas and mountaintop positions in the eastern parts of Hajjah in what they say is ‘their effort to liberate these areas from mercenaries [members of the pro-government Islamist Islah Party]’,” Sulaiman said.

    According to Abu Hamza Mohammed al-Sori, a Salafi leader, 40 of the dead are Houthis, and six are from his Salafi group, while more than 20 Salafis were injured, some of them seriously.

    Al-Sori said the clashes began in Dhu Holais village, in the eastern part of the governorate, after Houthi fighters attacked a villager during a religious dispute.

    “Tribesmen from Hajour District [in the adjacent Sa’dah Governorate, where most Houthis are based] backed residents of the village [Dhu Holais] in their fight against Houthis, inflicting on them heavy losses in equipment and personnel,” he said.

    Dhaifallah al-Shami, a Houthi leader, said the clashes were still going on. He vowed they would “behead those mercenaries” who killed Houthis. “They don’t want to coexist peacefully with us. They receive support from the government and Saudi Arabia to kill us,” he told IRIN.

    Many members of the Salafi Sect hail from the Damaj area of Sa’dah Governorate, but thousands of others live in Hajjah Governorate. Their leader is Muqpil al-Wadie, based in Sa’dah, and they are staunch supporters of outgoing President Saleh. The Houthis on the other hand have been fighting for more autonomy from central government for a number of years.

    Salafis in Damaj released a statement on 24 January saying that Houthis had killed 71 of their people and more than 168 others had been injured over the past two months (not counting the most recent clashes) in the governorates of Sa’dah, Hajjah, Amran and al-Jawf.

    IRIN

    http://yemenonline.info/news-2815.html

  4. Bahrain fired 3,000 employees in 2011
    Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:6AM GMT

    Bahrain has been the scene of anti-regime protests since mid-February, 2011.
    The Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain has dismissed more than 3,000 employees on charges of participating in anti-regime demonstrations over the past year.

    The regime has fired Shia and even Sunni employees over months of peaceful protests in the country.

    The government has, instead, hired its own military forces and foreign nationals in state offices, with the purpose of reducing the number of Shia employees to less than 50 percent of the total work force.

    Al Khalifa regime has recently granted Bahraini nationality to a number of Iraqi Ba’athists and of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein loyalists who had fled their country.

    The Bahraini government arrests civilians who participate in peaceful demonstrations and tortures them in different ways every day. Even children have been killed by security forces during protests.

    However, the US and Britain continue supporting the Bahraini regime.

    The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is stationed in the Bahraini capital and has provided support for the Al Khalifa regime during months of crackdown on peaceful protesters in the Persian Gulf state.

    Bahrain has been hit by a wave of anti-regime protests since mid-February 2011.

    Dozens of demonstrators have been killed and hundreds wounded in the popular uprising in the Persian Gulf nation.

    SF/AZ/MA

    http://presstv.com/detail/223515.html

  5. 27 January 2012 Last updated at 15:15 Share this pageEmailPrint
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    Bahrain criticised over ‘inappropriate’ use of tear gas

    Heavy and ‘inappropriate’ use of tear gas causing growing concern
    Continue reading the main story
    Bahrain Protests

    Bahrain police come under attack
    Bahrain pushes reform agenda
    Simmering Bahrain marks time
    Is Bahrain on route to reform?
    Amnesty International has called for an investigation into what it says is the misuse of tear gas by Bahraini security forces.

    The organisation says that more than a dozen deaths may have resulted from the heavy use of tear gas in residential areas.

    Police are struggling to contain a growing wave of protests in the gulf island kingdom.

    The most recent death attributed by activists to tear gas was on Wednesday.

    Saeed Ali Hasan al-Sakri, 65-years-old, is said by his family to have collapsed after a heavy volley of tear gas was unleashed near their home in a Shia village on Tuesday.

    Shia in Bahrain have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni ruling family. Pro-democracy protesters briefly occupied a prominent traffic roundabout in February of last year.

    Since being driven out of Pearl Roundabout in mid-March, mainly Shia demonstrators have continued to agitate against the government.

    ‘Police abuses’

    An independent panel of human rights experts was appointed by King Hamad after growing international condemnation of human rights abuses.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    The security forces must be instructed on how to use tear gas in line with international policing standards”

    Amnesty International
    The report published in November confirmed excessive use of force and systematic torture of prisoners in detention by security forces.

    But according to both activists in the country and international human rights organisations little has been done to curb the police.

    Eye witnesses have told the BBC of stun grenades and tear gas canisters being fired into houses in violation of international standards that Bahrain has signed up to. Amnesty International has called for an investigation into the deaths, adding: “The security forces must be instructed on how to use tear gas in line with international policing standards.”

    Amnesty International says that in some cases death seems to have resulted from an adverse reaction because of pre-existing health conditions such as asthma.

    Rising death toll

    This week, four deaths have been attributed by activists to the actions of the security forces.

    That brings the death toll since unrest began last year to at least 50, including four security officers.

    In addition to Mr Sakri, activists say that 24 year old Abbas Jaffar al-Shaikh died Wednesday of complications after being hit in the back with birdshot nearly two months ago.

    A spokesperson for the government said he was being treated for cancer when he died.

    The spokesperson said that Mr Sakri had died after a fall in his bathroom, adding “the Public Prosecutor ordered forensic examination to test blood but no results have been released yet”.

    Muntadher Saeed Fakhr was said by the Ministry of the Interior to have died in a traffic accident on Wednesday afternoon. Activists say he was deliberately run off the road by police.

    The BBC has seen a picture that is said to be of Mr Fakrh handcuffed and bleeding in a police vehicle.

    Police say Mohamed Yaqoob died of natural causes on Wednesday
    Mohamed Ibrahim Yaqoob died in hospital late Wednesday night. The BBC has seen two videos, one that appears to show the 19-year-old being chased and run down by a police vehicle in the village of Sitra.

    The second released by the police shows him in custody in a police car, apparently unhurt.

    A source told the BBC that Mr Yaqoob was first taken to a police station, and held for two hours before being admitted to hospital. The source says he died of internal bleeding four hours later.

    The Ministry of Interior is responsible for the security forces.

    On its website it says that Mr Yaqoob died of what it called “natural causes” after being taken to Salmaniya Hospital immediately after informing arresting officers that he suffered from sickle cell anaemia.

    But the BBC has seen photographic evidence of cuts and bruises on his body.

    The ministry has not yet commented on the call by Amnesty International to investigate deaths said to be related to the use of tear gas by its security forces.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16756725

  6. Bahrain confirms teen died in police custody
    Government doesn’t say how 18-year-old died in hospital, but an opposition leader claims cause of death was torture.
    Last Modified: 26 Jan 2012 17:50

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    There were unconfirmed reports via Twitter of fresh clashes between protesters and police on Thursday [Reuters]
    Bahrain authorities say a detainee has died after being taken into custody during clashes between security forces and
    protesters.

    The government on Thursday issued a statement saying that public prosecutors are investigating the death.

    The brief statement gave no further details on the death, but said the detainee was hospitalised and accused of “vandalism” during widespread demonstrations on Wednesday.

    “He died in hospital and the public prosecution has been notified,” it said.

    Leading opposition figure Matar Matar told the AFP news agency that Mohammed Yaaqub, 18, was chased by police vehicles and that his body “was stuck between two [police] cars that were following him”.

    “Instead of receiving the necessary medical treatment, the police took him to the yard opposite Sitra police station where he was tortured,” said Matar, a former MP.

    The interior ministry said 41 officers were injured in “orchestrated attacks on police” on Tuesday, as tensions rise almost a year after the eruption of Shia-led democracy protests that were crushed last March.

    Ebahim told the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper that, “the new policy is trying to minimise torture inside prisons, but the alternative is that they torture in other places, such as construction sites”.

    Amnesty report

    In a statement released Thursday, the London-based advocacy group Amnesty International warned that the use of tear-gas against protesters had become “increasingly deadly”.

    It called on the Bahraini government to investigate “the more than a dozen” tear-gas related deaths since February 2011.

    “The rise in fatalities and eyewitness accounts suggest that tear gas is being used inappropriately by Bahraini security forces, including in people’s homes and other confined spaces,” said Amnesty.

    About 40 people have died in nearly a year of nonstop unrest between Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy and the island kingdom’s majority Shias seeking a greater voice in government and security affairs.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/01/2012126145058663396.html

  7. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1ff33a4e-4839-11e1-a4e5-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1kmSovVaY

    January 26, 2012 5:05 pm
    Four die in Bahrain as uprising date nears
    By Simeon Kerr in Dubai

    A spate of deaths in Bahrain is coinciding with the use of increasingly violent tactics by pro-democracy demonstrators, threatening to destabilise the Gulf state ahead of the February 14 anniversary of the uprising.
    Activists from the majority Shia population say four people have died since Wednesday, including at least one who had been in police detention. The deaths have revived memories of the darkest days of last year’s crackdown when at least four protesters calling for reforms from the minority Sunni government were tortured to death in custody.
    More

    Mohamed Yaqoub, 18, died on Wednesday after being chased and injured by a police car in the restive Shia stronghold of Sitra, with his family claiming he had been tortured rather than receiving immediate medical treatment.
    The interior ministry said someone arrested for “vandalism” had died in hospital, adding that it had asked the public prosecutor to investigate.
    A government spokesman denied that any of the other three deaths were related to police operations.
    As tensions rise, funerals are turning into dangerous flash points. Three funerals on Thursday sparked heavy clashes between youths and police, witnesses said.
    Mourners tried to march from a Manama suburb to the Pearl roundabout, the epicentre of last year’s pro-democracy demonstrations, but were stopped by security forces near a major mall.
    A fourth funeral is scheduled for Friday.
    Protesters are increasingly turning to violence, throwing volleys of Molotov cocktails at riot police. In several cases, youths have managed to run police out of Shia villages.
    Analysts say that while the main opposition group, Al-Wefaq, remains committed to peaceful protest, the more radical February 14 youth movement is adopting violent resistance.
    One activist said: “The youth are saying enough is enough, the police should no longer feel they can roam though the villages with impunity.”
    Videos of Shia youths – dressed as martyrs-in-waiting marching in military formation – are circling the internet, compounding fears that the lack of political progress is radicalising the protest movement.
    “There are serious signs of escalation in Bahrain, and meanwhile there are no indications that there is any political reconciliation process,” said Jane Kinninmont of Chatham House.
    “Virtually no steps have been taken to address any of the root causes.”
    The government has introduced some reforms and released some prisoners, but moves to redress some of the abuses of last year are being replaced by new abuses, she said.
    Earlier this week, youths managed to kidnap at least one policeman during clashes.
    The interior ministry said police were confronted by armed protesters, who threw metal rods and petrol bombs at riot police, causing the hospitalisation of two.
    “The nature of the attacks reflected a serious escalation in the violent tactics of … the political opposition,” the government said.
    The minority Sunni-led government blamed the violence on a sermon delivered by Bahrain’s preeminent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, who had called on people to “trample” those who attack women.
    Rising tensions come ahead of the anniversary of the uprising, when thousands poured onto the streets demanding reform.
    A Saudi-backed crackdown last March drove protesters from the Pearl roundabout as the security forces used what an independent commission described as “excessive” use of force and “systematic torture.”
    As protests swell once more, fears are growing of another forceful security clampdown, which could put the April Formula 1 grand prix in jeopardy, undermining the economy further.
    “Government hardliners have already shown that they will prioritise their conception of “security” and that foreign investment is a secondary concern,” said Ms Kinninmont.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1ff33a4e-4839-11e1-a4e5-00144feabdc0.html

  8. The end of the affair between Hamas and Iran
    By Michael Weiss World Last updated: January 17th, 2012
    63 Comments Comment on this article

    Hamas has fallen out with its former puppet-masters in Iran
    According to Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, a group of armed Hamas fighters “brutally attacked” Shi’ite worshippers in the Gaza Strip last Friday, in part of a crackdown on Shi’ite groups that was sparked “by Hamas’ fear of growing Iranian influence in Gaza.” This is what happens with the Ayatollah stops paying the bills: up until a few months ago, “Iranian influence” was the sole reason for Hamas’ existence.
    The two men most responsible in the last decade for ensuring that the Palestinian party of jihad was kept thoroughly flush with arms and cash were Qassam Suleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Mouhsen Hussein Azahi, Iran’s intelligence minister. Since its 2007 seizure of Gaza, Hamas has been on the receiving end of Persian largesse that includes 120mm Grad rockets, Raa’d anti-tank missiles (Iranian knock-offs of the Russian-made Sagger variety), explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) which can cut through eight inches of steels, and the tech savvy to construct and place a host of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Hamas operatives used to spend anywhere between a month and six months training in Iranian camps learning how to fire guns, as well as drinking deep of the Khomeinist-flavoured ideology – without quite making the full leap to Shia Islam. So strong was the nexus between the Sunni terrorist organisation and the Shi’ite theocracy that, a senior agent of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the military wing of Hamas – told The Sunday Times in March 2008 that “Anything [the Iranians] think will be useful, our guys there email it to us right away.”
    Also, there was money. When Hamas’ administrative head in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Tehran in 2006 and met with Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he was rewarded with $250 million, a bundle that was allegedly confiscated by Egyptian authorities as Haniyeh attempted to make his way back to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. According to the London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awasat, Hamas was granted an additional $150 million in 2008 contingent on its refusal to negotiate with Israel in any way.
    So what dark turn has destroyed so fruitful a marriage of true minds? Nothing other than the imminent demise of the Assad regime in Syria.
    Iran wants Hamas to hang around Damascus, currently its global headquarters, and show solidarity with the dictator who advertises himself as the last titan of Arab “resistance”. But Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal has other ideas which is why, when not promising to retire, he’s been shopping for new real estate in the Middle East and shuttering all business in Damascus. As punishment for going wobbly on a regional ally, Iran has reportedly cut some or all of its funding to Hamas, forcing the group into a budgetary shortfall that’s been somewhat compensated by Turkish and Qatari funds.
    But how long can this emergency subsidy last? Islamist though the current government in Ankara is, it cannot support an internationally proscribed terrorist organisation forever without jeopardising its ties to the US and Europe, not to say its Nato membership. So either Turkish money will stop flowing or Hamas will have to not just “suspend” its commitment to violence, as it claims to have done recently in order to certify a dead-letter unity deal with its secular rival Fatah – it will have to permanently renounce violence altogether.
    Book-keeping aside, Hamas also faces a tough relocation because it is seen a toxic tenant even by ideological sympathisers. A Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt will still have to rely on billions of dollars of American aid, which might be withheld or curtailed if Hamas moved to Cairo. The last time Jordan hosted the group, it had to ask Benjamin Netanyahu for the antidote to a lethal poison Mossad sprayed in Meshaal’s ear canal. Qatar might consider letting space to Meshaal and company in Doha, but Emir Al Thani — also a US ally who has recently advocated Arab intervention in Syria – would likely force Hamas into becoming a furry, loud-barking JINO (jihadist in name only).
    Meanwhile, the mullahs’ new favourite proxy in Palestine is now Islamic Jihad, which will try to curry support by saying that Hamas has gone soft. These chaps are converting to Shia Islam in a bid to reclaim Iranian hegemony in Gaza. And Hezbollah, which is more a puppet of Iran than a mere proxy, has cast its sectarian lot with Assad by helping him kill Syrian protestors and thereby earning it the enmity of the entire Sunni Arab world.
    My, how a little revolution goes a long way.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100130480/the-end-of-the-affair-between-hamas-and-iran/

  9. The Ongoing Oppression of Shiites in Sunni Muslim Dominated Nations
    Posted GMT 1-24-2012 23:24:59

    Shia Muslims don’t face persecution in mainly Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and secular nations. However, throughout the Sunni Muslim world the Shia community faces daily discrimination and deadly attacks often erupt in Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and other nations. This reality needs to be debated more openly and international pressure needs to be felt and this applies to a new motion put before the United Nations.

    On January 23 in Iraq more Sunni Islamic terrorist attacks killed innocent Shia Muslims and bystanders who happened to be in a mainly Shia part of Baghdad. This threat is constant because of homegrown Sunni Islamic terrorism in Iraq and international angles. This applies to Sunni religious zealots from Saudi Arabia and other nations instigating mass hatred towards the Shia. Of course, Sunni Islamic terrorists in Iraq also target the Christian community and because of this vast numbers have fled to other nations.

    In Pakistan you have many Sunni Islamic terrorist networks which deem the Shia to be infidels and only recently major terrorist attacks killed many Shia Muslims. It matters not if political leaders in Iraq and Pakistan come from the Shia community because elements within the Sunni extremist terrorist networks clearly desire to install fear and instigate sectarianism.

    It must be remembered than when Al-Qaeda played a more prominent role in Afghanistan that this Sunni Islamic terrorist network along with the Sunni Taliban movement, targeted and killed Shia Muslims in the tens of thousands. Therefore, many Shia Muslims fled this Sunni onslaught against their beleaguered community.

    Bahrain and Yemen are two other nations whereby the Shia are marginalized and betrayed by the dominant Sunni Muslim forces in both nations. More alarming, many Shia villages have been bombed in Yemen whereby women and children have been killed. Also, in Bahrain outside nations like Saudi Arabia have boosted the Sunni ruling leadership with the results being more innocent deaths of Shia Muslims and ongoing persecution of Shia religious leaders.

    In Saudi Arabia, a nation which supports killing apostates and whereby not one single Christian church or Buddhist temple is allowed, is also anti-Shia and fanatical Sunni extremists, organizations, and wealthy business individuals, are intent on spreading the anti-Shia theme throughout Saudi Arabia and to other nations. Indeed, the Shia community faces enormous discrimination in this draconian society but of course the oil issue for Western political leaders maintains’ a firm silence. The upshot of this is more oppression of the Shia in regions like Qatif and ongoing restrictions on all non-Muslim religions throughout the nation.

    Indeed, while Malaysia is often praised in the “naïve Western media” for being modern and open, the stark reality is that in this nation the Shia faith is illegal. Therefore, Shia Muslims in Malaysia are in constant fear of being arrested and monitored for merely belonging to a different branch within Islam. However, what international pressure is being put on Malaysia internationally and within the Commonwealth nations?

    In the United Kingdom you also have white converts to Sunni Islam who have taken up important religious leadership roles but many have also entered the anti-Shia world.

    For example Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi (born Ian Dallas) commented that”Lebanon has already demonstrated that a concordance between the two religions (Islam and Shi’ism) cannot work. It is now under the control of the Shi’a. >From it, the Palestinian entity has been destroyed, split in two, one side mafia-based and the other openly converted to Shi’ism.”

    “Jordan, too is split. The mass are modernist but devoid of an ‘Aqida and a Fiqh, while the Rulership openly espouses one-worldist movements and has issued a Declaration accepting the Shi’a as if it could subsist within Islam. Shi’ism is not a cancer in the body of Islam, it was a wart which fell off, hence its name.”

    “Bahrain we have identified as an anomaly. Since the rulers are too weak, bearing as they do a calamitous history, they can only do one of two things, submit to the kafir capitalist doctrine of counting people as numbers and give the country over to the Shi’a, or ask Arabia to annex the territory, thus rescuing the arithmetic. I do not, cannot propose the Maliki Islamic solution. Declare the State Islamic, thus preventing non-Muslims holding office and at the same time charge the Shi’a Jizya assuring them protection alongside the Jews and Christians. Now there is tolerance at its limit! This would have to be preceded by introducing a collected Zakat.”

    Therefore, it is abundantly clear that hatred towards the Shia Muslim community throughout the Sunni Muslim world is a major problem. Also, radical Sunni converts to Islam have entered into an anti-Shia and anti-Christian mindset. However, this issue is being ignored and brushed aside but the natural reality is that if the Shia suffers such discrimination then naturally all other non-Sunni religious groups will also suffer the same hatred and marginalization.

    From September 11, Bali, London, Madrid, and other international terrorist attacks, the one uniting theme is that all were done by radical Sunni Islamists. It is clear that all non-Sunni Muslims and non-Muslims are deemed to be subhuman and open to murder in the name of radical Sunni Islam.

    However, what is more alarming is that institutional discrimination against the Shia is a fact of life in nations like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Therefore, why isn’t this issue being addressed? Also, it makes a mockery of so-called Muslim unity because simply put it doesn’t exit.

    Finally, it is important for moderate Sunni religious leaders to speak out about rampant religious discrimination. If not, then moderate religious forces within Sunni Islam will also be crushed and if you look at modern day Pakistan it is clear that progressive Sunni Muslims are under attack from Sunni extremists.

    By Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
    Modern Tokyo Times

    http://www.aina.org/news/20120124172459.htm

  10. 24, January, 2012

    Houthis hold 12 Saudis Hostage in North Yemen

    *
    Yemen Post Staff

    The Pro Shia Houthi movement told Yemen Post that they are holding twelve Saudi nationals in custody after they entered Yemeni lands illegally and were aiding extremist Sunni groups in north Yemen.

    Houthis, who control most of the northern border with Saudi Arabia, say that Saudis are now negotiating the release of the nationals.

    This is the time Houthis hold Saudis in custody while they claim that the Saudis were well armed and in possession of large sums of money.

    Saudi Arabia has offered Houthis financial support in exchange for releasing the nationals.

    Senior Houthi leaders in the northern Saad’a province, the Houthi stronghold, told Yemen Post that Saudi Arabia is doing all in it’s power to aide the Salafi fighters and is strongly funding them.

    Houthis are now involved in a powerful war in north Yemen against pro Saudi Salafi movements, who claim the Houtis are trying to spread the Iranian influence in the region.

    Yemen Post Staff

    http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4578&MainCat=3

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  13. “Celebratory gunfire in Ain al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon yesterday on announcement of Salafi Caliphate of ISISI in Iraq and Syria. It may be noted that a large number of Palestinians including Hamas are helping Al Qaeda, ISIS and other Salafi Wahhabi and Deobandi terrorists in massacring Sunni Sufis, Shias and Christians in Syria and Iraq. In West Bank, Hamas militants have in the past attacked Shia Muslims stopping them from participating in Ashura rituals of Muharram.”

    https://twitter.com/sunnanews/status/483338520619409408

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