2018 marks the 7th anniversary of Shia Rights Watch. Over the past seven years, our organization and our team have grown from a Washington, DC-based minority rights group to an internationally renowned institution active in both the United Nations and the International community.
Saudi Arabia’s increasingly erratic behavior has raised question marks around the world. After decades in which Riyadh kept a low profile and mainly intervened in world affairs by using its oil wealth, the Saudi military and intelligence machine is now pursuing a brutal war in Yemen, has put little Qatar under boycott, has attempted to destabilize Lebanon, is licking its wounds from defeat in Syria, and is cultivating potential clients in Iraq.
I stood in front of a mosque in the city of Qatif, Saudi Arabia, interviewing people for a story. Suddenly, two city police cars pulled up. Several minutes later plain clothes officers from the secret police began questioning me. I had entered the country with a journalist visa, but committed the grave crime of practicing journalism without official permission.
In the introduction to this special issue, we make the case for ‘de-centring’ the study of Shiʿi Islam, conceptually, spatially and sociologically. After first noting the essentialization of Shiʿi identity within the contemporary public sphere, we question its spatialization within the modern world of nation-states and area studies, and contrast the physical and human geography of Shiʿi Islam.
Over the years, the Shiite pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq – bigger than the hajj – has been a frequent target of Sunni militants, including ISIS. But the faithful keep coming, and ISIS is in retreat.
Sectarian conflict and polarisation has become a key feature of Middle East politics in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings of 2011. This workshop looked at some of the key drivers of this, such as the troubled legacy of foreign intervention, state failure, regional rivalries between Saudi Arabia, Iran and others, ruling strategies of authoritarian regimes as well as the spread of identity and sect-based political movements.
Members of Iraq’s Shia Turkmen community have been the targets of brutal persecution by so-called Islamic State (IS). One woman, who asked not to be named, told BBC Turkish’s Mahmut Hamsici about her ordeal at the hands of militants from the Sunni jihadist group.
WARNING: This story makes for very unpleasnt reading!
At least 50 people have been killed in two attacks in southern Iraq, health officials say. In the first attack, a suicide bomber detonated his vest and gunmen opened fire inside a roadside restaurant near Nasiriya, the capital of Dhiqar province, security sources said. Soon afterwards, a car bomb exploded at a nearby checkpoint.