Written by Zainab Hasan
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 00:15
Saudi security forces and the Wahhabi ‘religious police’ have killed at least two Shia pilgrims in the holy city of Medina in what appears to be a premeditated and coordinated attack. The courtyard of the holy mosque of the Prophet (s) witnessed heavy clashes on Tuesday afternoon when security forces opened fire on Shia pilgrims who had come to commemorate the death anniversary of the Holy Prophet of Islam.
The provocations began on Friday evening when religious police prevented pilgrims from mourning the death of the Holy Prophet and instead started to film a group of female Shia pilgrims outside the al-Baqee Cemetery in Medina. Footage of this unwarranted provocation has been made available online: YouTube. The raw footage captures the highly charged atmosphere in the courtyard caused by the aggressive conduct of the religious police.
When male relatives expressed their protest at the mistreatment of the female visitors to the shrine, five of them were jailed by security forces. The names of those jailed are: Abdullah Muhammad Al-Matroud, Abdul-Aziz Al-Darwish from the town of Qatif, Murtadha Faysal Al-Arbash from Dammam, Abdullah Jum’ah Al-Mumin aged fifteen (15) and Mukhtar Muhammad Al-Nasir.
Wahhabi religious police in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are notorious for manhandling Shia pilgrims and often subject them to harsh treatment. The Saudi kingdom on its part has a long history of support for Wahhabi and Salafi radical groups, with leading figures in the monarchical hierarchy such as Bandar bin Sultan, known for their particular hatred towards the Shia.
The clashes boiled over on Tuesday when Saudi security police aided by Wahhabi fanatics set a parameter around visiting Shia pilgrims and later opened fire on them resulting in two fatalities and several casualties, some of whom with life-threatening injuries. Amongst those critically injured is young Abdullah Al-Hassaani aged fifteen (15) who is presently being treated in the intensive care unit in one of the hospitals in Medina. Abdullah was shot in the chest by security forces.
Earlier in the day, Shia cleric Sheikh Jawad Al-Hodhry was attacked with a knife by a Wahhabi fanatic at the entrance of the mosque of the Holy Prophet.
The nature in which the Saudi security forces have conducted themselves in dealing with visitors to the holy shrine of the Prophet, and the consequent escalation to bloody clashes witnessed in the courtyard of the holy mosque shows a well planned and premeditated attack aimed at vilifying, and laying blame on the Shia population in Saudi Arabia. There can be no doubt that in the aftermath of these clashes there will be even more severe restrictions placed on Shias living in the kingdom.
Reports by human right groups have always underlined the systematic suppression faced by the Shia minority at the hands of the Saudi government.
Written by Zainab Hasan