Yemen and ongoing persecution of the Shia
Lee Jay Walker
The Modern Tokyo Times
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