The 1400 years old history pages are filled with the most bloody persecution of Shi’a at the hands of fellow Muslims, the Banu Ummayya, Banu Abbas, Salafis of Ibn Tameyya, Akhwan ul Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood), the Ottomons and the Wahhbbis of the contemporary times. Now the Western print and broadcast media is getting on the same bandwagon of bigotry in singling out Shi’a Muslims as the “bogeyman” of the Islamic universe. Granted that Iran does not exactly help foster the best image of the Shi’a, but to lump the 300 million Shia Muslims, who hail from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and numerous Arab states with Iran is unfair and smacks of a Shi’a-phobic demeanor. Did the world disparage and disenfranchise the entire German populace for the behavior of the Nazis during and prior to the World War II? Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in a recent editorial regarding the Syria crisis notes, “An Assad triumph would mean a Shiite crescent of power from Iran though Syria to Lebanon (A nefarious notion coined by King Abdullah of Jordan) that would foment instability and violence…”. The same editorial goes on to lament, “The Sunni Arabs who run Bahrain – the base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet – would be under increasing political pressure.” What an imperialistic and discriminatory discourse, as a despotic dictatorship that has been suppressing its majority Shi’a Muslim population for several years, is now being defended by WSJ.
The New York Times has been repeatedly guilty of insinuating for the past couple of years that since the Alawites of Syria are a heterodox form of Shia Islam (A historically false assumption), the Shia are somehow to be blamed for this fiasco and have filed one article after another sympathizing with the criminal groups such as Al-Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood, Ahrar ul Sham, and Al-Nusra Front as the saviors of Syria. Ironically, these are the very same groups, or extensions thereof, that perpetrated the most heinous of terrorist attacks from New York to London.
Unfortunately, the real elephant in this room of mischief and malice, peddling Shi’a-phobia, is the Muslim Mafia that is comprised of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its underlings in the Gulf as well as to some extent Turkey, the latter day Ottomans. This gang of four, after failing miserably in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon, is not only desperate, it is determined to settle the score with the Shi’a whom they consider not just infidels, but a far more formidable and lethal enemy of their establishment than even the Christians and the Jews. The west, giving in to this Shi’a-phobic pitch, has entitled this Mafia as the undisputed leader that can on its own terms define global Islam and Muslims. The Western policy makers look up to Riyadh, Cairo, Doha and Istanbul, and completely discard and marginalize the most ancient institutions (Both Sunni & Shia) located in Baghdad, Damascus, Najaf, Qom and Kabul. Also, this Muslim Mafia has done a masterful job of, simultaneously, appeasing their respective citizenry on one hand while on the other hand keeping the West baffled with their tricks.
But it is only a matter of time before the fledgling monarchies of Saudi Arabia and its Gulf underlings crumble under their own weight – their strategic importance in the region will fast diminish as the shale oil revolution takes its hold and the United States becomes energy independent. The considerations of energy security in policy-making will soon become subordinate to considerations of human rights, rule of law and democracy. Shi’a, like their cousins, the Jews, have learned one large lesson that the road to revival is paved with one bloody sacrifice after another and only with patience and forbearance can they survive and thrive.
Agha (Shaukat) Jafri