Monday, September 19, 2005

Shiítes in Saudiarabia

It seems that i unintentually will have a Gulftheme today, with my latest piece on Yemen, and this one on Saudiarabia. The Gulf region is very interesting politically right now, but dosent recieve as much attention as it deserves.

Today ICG realeased a report on the shiítes in Saudi Arabia. Interesting to read about a subject that has been disscused lately, Even King Abdullah of Jordan has been talking about a shíite crescent with Iran , Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as fertile ground for a shift in the geopolitical balance between Sunnis and Shiites. I believe that the kind of talk that the King and indeed many more use is exaggerated, and could actually be rather counterproductive.

The report describes the discrimination of the 2 milion shiíte community in Saudiarabia. The Wahabbi creed witch merely tolerate other Sunni creeds has made life tough for the minority. Encouraging signs from the begining of the 1990´s show´s an attitude of understanding of the problems the community are facing. King Abdullah of Saudiarabia has been instrumental in this. Since 2004 , the shiítes can commemorate Ashura publicly. And it seems that the shíite religious rites are tolerated by the state, and in an promising ongoing dialogue the small steps taken leads in the right direction. The government however , needs to open up the local and national council for active participatition, and it also needs to tackle the sharpened attitude of the militant sunni islamists in the context of hightened tension in the region between Sunni and Shia, some Saudi militants fighting currently fighting in Iraq will ultimately return to Saudiarabia , and the government needs to try and stop these militants from opening up another theather of secterian violence in the Kingdom.


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