The discrimination against Shia Muslims, in the Middle East, has existed for centuries. The act of injustice needs to stop since Muslims are only allowed to practice their belief only in their city. The Shia Muslims forms the minority population of Saudi Arabia. However, Wahabi Muslims who are their greatest enemies normally humiliate and degrade them with the aim of making them feel as outcast in that community. Their attitude towards Shia Muslim is totally deplorable.
The Shia Muslim community has experienced a number of restrictions and persecutions over centuries from both the national government and Wahabi Muslims.
- Lack of involvement in national matters
The national government and profound Sunni rulers have always limited their political participation. Occasionally, this group has been denounced by various traitors and other non-Muslim communities in Saudi Arabia. In most cases, Shia Muslims are normally accused of sabotage (Evans, 250). The most memorable was bombing of the main oil pipelines in 1988. During this time, several Shias were executed in connection to this event.
The national government also punished this community by placing various restrictions on their freedom. This also included marginalizing them economically where the Wahabi Muslims were given the authority to execute and punish them.
According to Human Rights Report issued in 2009, the minor community faces discrimination in different sectors. They include the following: Religion, Education, Justice and Employment.
Shia community has no representation in the list of the cabinet ministers, mayors of the major cities or either in the police and military forces. The social structures keep them out of all critical jobs by the national government. Among the all Shia girls’ schools in the country, neither of them is headed by a Shia principal.
In addition, the national government has also restricted the kind of names given to children belonging to the Shia community. The aim is to discourage them to hide their identity. The textbooks used in schools characterize their belief as worse that than practiced by Christians and Judaists.
Further, there is only one mosque for the Shia Muslims in every city. The government is the main oppressor of the Shia community as it funded all events that aim demeaning the faith. This acts and activities are against human rights as every human being in his country of birth is bound to enjoy freedom of worship despite his tribe or religion.
Restricting them from taking part in political activities shows that the government of Saudi Arabia undermines the minority community. In this 21st century, these kinds of injustices are supposed to be demolished so that each and every individual can enjoy freedom of worship in his country. However, freedom can only be achieved when the national government guarantees the rights of each and every individual in the country as required by the constitution.
Further, Shia Muslims have experienced discrimination in the following areas as discussed:
- Religious Discrimination
The Shia Muslims celebrate the ‘Day of Ashura’, to remember the assassination of the famous Husayn bin Ali. The event is characterized by somber events. However, the Wahabi Muslims who form most part of the government has restricted teachers and students from the Shia community from taking part in these activities. For instance, in 2009 during commemoration events a number of Shia religious and community leaders in various parts of the country were arrested.
Further, Shia Muslims are also restricted from building mosques as they are only allowed to have one mosque in the city. Most of them perform the common Friday prayers in their homes. Further, in other towns, mosques have been completely closed by the authorities.
In 2009, a group of Shia Muslims were arrested by Sunni police when they were performing Hajj in the holy city. A fifteen year old boy was shot in the chest and one of their sheikhs stabbed. In addition, women in Eastern province are also arrested for organizing religious classes and selling garments used in religious festivals.
- Discrimination in schools
Their religion is undermined in school where most of the teachings are dominated by Wahabi teachings (Bowen, 36). Students are also taught that Shia is not a religion. Teachers who encourage the religion are persecuted. Further, teachers and students who hail from the Shia community are not allowed to attend various religious activities associated with their faith. In addition, none of the Shia girl’s schools are headed by a principal from the Shia community.
This clearly indicates the kinds of injustices that teachers and students who come from the Shia community experience in the course of learning activities ( Habeed, Rafael & Mina, 166).
- Discrimination in the workforce
In most cases, people from the Shia community are prohibited from becoming teachers specializing in religious subjects. Further, these teachers cannot become teachers or principles in their schools or professors in the universities in the country. Further, they are banned from joining the military and security forces. They also cannot serve as judges in courts or pilots in Saudi Airlines.
Even in the 21st century, Shiites continue to face all kinds of all discrimination. However, according to ‘Human Rights Watch’ report, this minor community confirmed that they want to be treated equally as other communities in Saudi Arabia (Gregory, 2). They also desire to be free of all discrimination. This includes freedom of worship in their mosques, right to build various mosques in the cities, right to convey their religious teachings to their children and the coming generation.
The current ruler King Abdullah has tried to bring the two communities together, through religious tolerance practices. The duty of every government is to ensure that all citizens are protected from religious persecution. All communities should enjoy freedom of worship in their cities. This includes permission to build various places of worship, availing various religious teachings to their generation and right to attend various religious activities. None of the communities should be discriminated against. Access to positions in the national government, military and security agencies and as administrators in the schools should be equitable and merit based.
Bowen, Wayne H. The History of Saudi Arabia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2008. Print.
Evans, Malcolm D. Religious Liberty and International Law in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge
Gregory, Gause. Saudi Arabia: Iraq, Iran, the Regional Power Balance, and
the Sectarian Question,” Strategic Insights, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2007),
Habeeb, William M, Rafael D. Frankel, and Mina Al-Oraibi. The Middle East in Turmoil:
Conflict Revolution and change. Santa Barbara Human Rights: Annual Report 2004. London: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2004. Print.