December 8, 2011

Saudi rulers' depraved indifference

    Thursday, December 08, 2011   No comments

 The manufacturing and toleration of supremacism
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Even before 9-11, before the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and before the war in Iraq, suicide bombers had targeted civilian Shiite worshipers in mosques and public places in a number of countries. The state of lawlessness created by war merely expanded this heinous trend to Iraq. Now, months before the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the cruelty of supremacism was on display December 6, 2011 when a suicide bomber struck a crowd of Shiite worshipers at a mosque in Kabul, killing at least 57 people. Four other Shiites were killed in Mazar-i-Sharif when a bomb strapped to a bicycle exploded in a gathering celebrating `Ashura. The Kabul bomber blew himself up in the midst of a crowd of men, women and children gathered outside the Abul Fazl shrine to commemorate the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussain.

These are criminal acts that cannot be justified on religious or ideological ground no matter the context. Taking a clear stand against the targeting of civilians, regardless of the victims’ religion, nationality, ethnicity, and any other distinguishing characteristic, is the best way to stop it from spreading to other places and targeting other ethnic and religious groups. Consistency and principled condemnation of this genocidal behavior is the only sure way of stopping the spread of the supremacist ideology that fuels it. To her credit, Secretary Clinton did the right thing when she issued an immediate condemnation:

"These attacks directed at worshipers marking the Shia holy day of Ashura are deplorable, and those responsible show their complete disregard for the efforts of the Afghan people to make their country more stable, more peaceful, and more democratic.”

This condemnation is a step in the right direction but it is not enough for two reasons. 

First, in a time when the U.S. is imposing more sanctions on Iran that are bound to hurt the Iranian people despite many claims to the contrary, the administration needs to send a strong message that their political and ideological conflict with the Iranian government does not devalue the life of the Shiite people. Second, given the religious identity of the perpetrators, the U.S. needs to pressure its allies, a number of the Gulf States, who are known supporters of the groups that espouse indiscriminate murder.

Specifically, Saudi Arabia, being the main sponsor of these extreme sects that embrace supremacism should speak forcefully and loudly against this criminal behavior and deadly creed. The U.S. should use its influence to make the Saudi religious and political authorities do more in this regard.

In this and many other cases, it is evident that the creed of the perpetrators is well known: a belief that followers of all sects that are not Sunni (Wahhabi that is) are heretics and should repent or die. The enablers and supporters of this cruel ideology are also knowable. All evidence points to the fact that Saudi Arabia has been an incubator for sects that are exclusivist in their beliefs, hateful in their practices, and racist in their view of others. They kill men, women, and children and they even desecrate graves and cemeteries.

The generic term used by western authorities that identifies al-Qaeda as the exemplar and promoter of such cruelty and disregard to human life is not adequately specific. Al-Qaeda is only one manifestation of supremacism that is deeply rooted in Saudi religious practices and teachings. The U.S. is morally obliged to ask its ally, Saudi Arabia, to end and undo its brainwashing of its youth and the youth of the Muslim communities worldwide given that the two allies were the enablers and promoters of this stream of supremacism in the 1980’s. Then, the two allies used supremacist teachings to recruit zealots to fight the Soviets. Now, the Saudis are using them to remain relevant in an awakened Arab world.

There is no place for a belief system that commands the killing of people of other faiths. The Saudi version of Islam has promoted this genocidal culture. It is genocidal because it teaches the elimination of an entire religious group simply because it is deemed heretic. Many followers of the Saudi manufactured supremacist sects detest dissent, demonize innovation, and loathe reason. They see their creed as superior to all others and they use their oil-generated wealth to subjugate the vulnerable. Sure, all people, including the Saudi Salafists, have the right to believe in whatever dogma they choose, but when their beliefs translate into acts of indiscriminate killing, they forfeit that right.

So far, the Saudi rulers have never publicly condemned the bombing of Shiites civilians. Their silence, given their relation to the perpetrators, amounts to implicit approval. The Saudi rulers’ silence to cruelty and genocidal acts carried by individuals influenced by their teachings is shocking to human conscience. Their financial and moral support to select supremacist groups in Arab Spring countries is an attempt to control the Arab revolutions. These groups have already used violence to impose censorship and to segregate students in Tunisia and Egypt. If the problem is not properly identified and methodically solved, more Tunisian, Egyptian, Moroccan, and other Muslims and non-Muslims will be their next targets.

Naturally, the Saudi-sponsored Salafists should have a space at the table and should be encouraged to participate in the governing process. They should be able to participate in the political life. But they cannot deny others the right to exist and live in peace. The Saudis should use their endless wealth to raise awareness against this supremacist creed they helped create.

The Saudi institutions and wealthy individuals, as the main sponsors of the exclusivist stream of supremacism, ought to speak louder than anyone else. They should declare clearly and publicly that it is not acceptable to kill people because they don’t share their beliefs. So far, the Saudi rulers have never expressed sorrow and condolence when Shiites were mass murdered. This suspicious silence is in and of itself a damning indictment. They stand guilty of moral and criminal depraved indifference and they continue to ignore the problem they had helped create.
* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa with joint appointments in International Studies, Islamic Studies, and College of Law. He is the author of the book Contesting Justice. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.


This is a sample, non-exhaustive list of reported attacks on Shiite Muslims perpetrated by self-proclaimed Sunni Muslims (primarily Saudi influenced supremacist groups) as headlined in local and international media outlets. The Saudis can help end this murderous ritual by condemning them in the most certain and clear terms possible.
1995: Azam Tariq, a Pakistani Sunni cleric leader of the Islamist party Sipah-i-Sahaba, publicly calls for attacks on Shiites in Pakistan.
Sep 1996: More than 200 people are killed when Sunnis attacked Shiites in Kurram, Pakistan
In 1997: Sunni extremists assassinate 75 Shiite leaders in Pakistan
In 1998: The Taliban under the command of Abdullah Dadullah, massacre dozens of Shiites in Afghanistan
February 26, 2002: At least 11 Shia worshipers were killed by indiscriminate firing by a group of masked gunmen at the Shah-i-Najaf Mosque in Rawalpindi.
April 2002: In the first four months of 2002 Sunni Pakistani militias kill 17 doctors, 4 lawyers, 5 journalists, 4 teachers and 16 government officials of the Shiite minority in Karachi
June 8, 2003: Members of the Sunni terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi kill 11 police officers of the Shia community in Balochistan, Pakistan
July 4, 2003: At least 47 people were killed and 150 injured in an attack on a Shia mosque in the south-western Pakistani city of Quetta.
March 2, 2004: In the deadliest coordinated attacks since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a series of explosions killed 181 Shiites celebrating the Ashoura in Baghdad and Karbala. 49 Iranian pilgrims were among the victims of the bombings.
May 14, 2004: Six members of Shia family were shot dead in Mughalpura locality of Lahore.
May 17, 2004: Pakistani militants start using suicide attacks in a coordinated manner with the attacks on Karachi that kill 100 Shiites
May 31, 2004: A suicide bomber blew up the Imambarghah Ali Raza mosque in Karachi in the middle of evening prayers, killing 16 worshipers and injuring 35.
September 21, 2004: Suspected Sipah-e-Sahaba members gunned down at least three members of a Shi'a family in a sectarian attack in Dera Ismail Khan.
October 1, 2004: A suicide bombing left 25 people dead and dozen injured at a Shia mosque after Friday prayers in the eastern city of Sialkot.
October 10, 2004: An explosion by a suicide bomber at a mosque used by Shiite Muslims in Lahore killed at least four people and left eight injured.
March 19, 2005: a suicide bombing kills more than 35 people in an Afghan Shiite mosque in Fatehpur in Jhal Magsi District, Balochistan.
December 8, 2005: more than 30 people are killed in a bomb blast at the Fatehpu shrine in Pakistan.
February 18, 2005: Iraq mosque attacks kill 17 in Shiite ceremony.
February 9, 2006: Sectarian violence marred the holiest day of the Shiite calendar, with at least 36 people killed.
April 3, 2006: Ten die and 38 are wounded during a suicide truck bomb attack near a Shiite mosque in northeastern Baghdad
April 7, 2006: Two or three suicide bombers target the Baratha mosque in Baghdad, killing 85 people and wounding 160.
July 14, 2006: Allama Hassan Turabi, a Shiite religious scholar and leader of Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan, and his 12-year-old nephew were killed in a suicide attack near his Abbas Town residence.
October 6, 2006:  23 Shiites are killed by a suicide bomber in Pakistan.
January 27, 2007: A suicide bomber kills 15 people at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan
January 19, 2008: Two million pilgrims today marched through Karbala to mark Ashura, as 68 people were killed and 200 injured.
December 2008: A Taliban suicide bomber kills 16 Shiites including 13 schoolchildren in a town at the border with Pakistan .
February 2009: A suicide bomber kills more than 25 people at a Shiite funeral procession in Dera Ismail Khan in north-west Pakistan
March 27, 2009: 76 persons were killed and over 100 injured in an apparent suicide attack on a Shia mosque at Peshawar-Torkham Highway in Jamrud.
Apr 2009: Three suicide bombs in 24 hours in Pakistan, including an attack on a Shiite mosque in Islamabad that kills 26 people
June 2009: A suicide bomber kills 38 people at a Shiite mosque near Upper Dir in north-west Pakistan.
July 29, 2009: A remote controlled car bomb killed two men guarding a Shia lawyer in Dera Ismail Khan.
August 10, 2009: Bombings targeting Shiites across Iraq kill at least 45 killed.
September 2009: More than 30 Shiites are killed by a suicide bomber in Astarzai (Pakistan) claimed by Lahskar-e-Jhangvi.
December 2009: 43 Shiites are killed in a suicide bomb attack by the Pakistani Taliban of Asmatullah Bhittani in Karachi, Pakistan.
February 05, 2010: Two bombs targeting Shiite Muslims exploded in Pakistan's largest city Friday, one outside a hospital treating victims from the first blast hours earlier. At least 25 people were killed and around 100 others wounded.
May 28, 2010: Two bomb attacks on Shiite worshippers in Pakistan leave dozens dead.
July 2010: A suicide attack on a Sufi shrine in Lahore, Pakistan, kills 40 people.
November 2010: 67 people are killed by a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in north-west Pakistan.
December 2010: A suicide car bomber of a Sunni militant group kills 11 Shiite people in Hangu, north-west Pakistan.
December 13, 2010: 4 dead, 26 wounded in attacks on Shiite pilgrims in Iraq.
August 31, 2011: Eleven people were killed in Quetta following a bombing outside a mosque when Shi'a Muslim worshippers belonging to the Hazara community were conducting Eid prayers.
November 24, 2011: Death toll rises in Iraq triple bombing, nearly 20 Shiite worshippers killed.
December 2011: At least 58 people, mostly Shiites, are killed by Sunni terrorists in Afghanistan.


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