Suicide bombing attack on Shia cultural center in Kabul kills dozens
- A single suicide bomber infiltrated the Tabian Social and Culture Centre in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood, leaving more than 40 dead and at least 80 injured.
- The attack took place as a crowd of more than 100 gathered to mark the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of more than a dozen since 2016 targeting Shiites that have left more than 700 dead.
“Suicide bombers kill dozens at Shi’ite center in Afghan capital” (Reuters | December 2017)
“ISIS suicide bombing in Kabul kills dozens” (CNN | December 2017)
“Why is ‘Islamic State’ targeting Shiites in Afghanistan?” (Deutsche Welle | December 2017)
Attack on Shiite mosque in Kabul kills more than 30, injures dozens more
- A suicide attacker entered the Baqir-ul-Olum mosque during a gathering for Arbaeen, a devotional ritual.
- Among the dead were a number of children, and reports put the number of injured at at least 35.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series targeting Shiite Muslims in the Sunni-majority country.
“IS claims attack that kills dozens at Shi’ite mosque in Kabul” (Reuters)
“Afghanistan Kabul mosque suicide attack kills dozens” (BBC)
“Afghanistan mosque attack: 30 dead, ISIS claims responsibility” (CNN)
(Image Credit: Reuters, via BBC)
The Unweaving of Mosul
As the battle rages between the Islamic State and a coalition of forces led by the Iraqi government for control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, many of the ethnic and religious minorities who called it home for generations fear the city will never again be the tolerant, culturally rich home it once was. Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, Arabs, and others all coexisted in the vibrant cultural landscape of a city with both historical and contemporary significance, but the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq and the recent occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State have all but decimated the minority communities that called the city home. The New York Times takes a look at the city’s decline, the uncertainty of its future, and the stories of those who once flourished in a cosmopolitan city known for its diversity and tolerance.
“In Once-Tolerant Mosul, a Social Unraveling That Feels Permanent” (The New York Times)
“Iraq: Can Mosul survive ISIL?” (Al Jazeera)
(Image Credit: Felipe Dana/Associated Press, via The New York Times)
Gunmen kill at least 4 Shiite Muslims, injure others in Karachi
- The victims were attending a religious gathering in the North Nazimabad neighborhood of Pakistan’s largest city.
- The shooting was carried out by the Al Alami faction of the Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
- The attack follows the recent massacre of more than 60 police cadets by Al Alami in coordination with the Islamic State.
“Gunmen kill four at Shi’ite Muslim gathering in Karachi” (Reuters)
“Five killed, several injured in sectarian attack on Nazimabad majlis” (The Express Tribune)
“5 killed as gunmen target Shia gathering in Karachi” (The Nation)
Bombing during protest in Kabul devastates Afghanistan’s Hazara community
- A triple suicide attack left at least 80 dead and 231 wounded at a protest in the Afghan capital, with the Islamic State claiming responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks in the country since 2001.
- The demonstration had been organized to protest an electricity route in the country and the perceived abandonment of the Hazara community by political leaders.
- Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazaras have long been targeted in the country, including in recent decades by the Taliban and now the Islamic State.
“Kabul Bombing Adds New Layers of Agony for Afghanistan’s Hazaras” (The New York Times)
“ISIS Claims Suicide Attack On Kabul Protest By Hazara Minority, Dozens Killed” (The Huffington Post)
“Kabul explosion: Islamic State ‘admits attack on Hazara protest’” (BBC)
(Image Credit: Adam Ferguson/The New York Times)
Islamic State attack on Shiite mausoleum leaves dozens dead
- At least 35 people were killed and 60 wounded after a triple suicide attack near the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi near Balad north of Baghdad.
- Worshipers were marking Eid al-Fitr when a suicide bomber detonated himself at the shrine, allowing IS militants to storm in and shoot visitors and a second suicide bomber to detonate in the middle of the crowd.
- The attack comes at the end of a global Ramadan that has been particularly bloody with attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iraq.
“At least 35 killed in attack on Shi’ite mausoleum north of Baghdad” (Reuters)
“Iraq says Balad suicide blast is Isis attempt to stir up sectarian war” (The Guardian)
“Iraqi PM fires head of security after shrine attack” (AP via Al-Arabiya)
(Image Credit: Stringer/Reuters)
IS bombing of predominantly Shia neighborhood in Baghdad leaves nearly 300 dead
- A truck bombing ripped through the Karrada shopping district of central Baghdad, many of the victims children out with their families to celebrate the end of the school year .
- The attack was claimed by the Islamic State, the fourth such global attack coordinated or inspired by the group within the last month (following Orlando, Istanbul, and Dhaka).
- IS, a Sunni extremist group, claimed to have attacked Shiite Muslims, also taking credit for a second bombing in the predominantly Shia neighborhood of al-Shaab that left at least two dead.
“Bombing Kills More Than 120 in Baghdad” (The New York Times)
“Nearly 120 killed in overnight Baghdad bombings claimed by Islamic State” (Reuters)
“Iraq: Baghdad bombings kill dozens” (Al Jazeera)
(Image Credit: Reuters, via Al Jazeera)
Bahrain strips Shiite leader of citizenship as anti-dissident campaign continues
- The Interior Ministry stripped Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, a prominent Shiite cleric, of Bahraini citizenship, stirring protest among the Gulf country’s Shiite majority.
- The denaturalization took place soon after a court ordered the suspension of Bahrain’s main opposition group, Al-Wefaq, which has led pro-democracy protests in the country since 2011.
- The Sunni-led government has accused Shiite leaders of promoting foreign interests (namely Iran’s) and fomenting sectarian division and extremism in the country, leading to their denaturalization and expulsion.
“Bahrain strips Sheikh Isa Qassim of nationality” (Al Jazeera)
“Bahrain’s Sunni Rulers Revoke Citizenship of Top Shiite Cleric” (The New York Times)
“Bahrain strips top Shi’ite Muslim cleric of citizenship” (Reuters)
(Image Credit: AP via Al Jazeera)
Iranian pilgrims denied travel rights as diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues
- Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization announced that Iranians would not be allowed to make the annual trek to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
- Relations between the regional rivals have deteriorated in the wake of Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, which led to violent protests at the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Riyadh’s severance of diplomatic ties.
- In September 2015, hundreds of Iranians were among the thousands killed in a stampede in Mecca, and the continued absence of an official Saudi report has exacerbated tensions between the two countries.
“Iran says its pilgrims will not attend haj in Saudi” (Reuters)
“Iran pilgrims to miss Hajj amid row with Saudi Arabia” (BBC)
“Iranians will not perform Haj this year” (Gulf News)
(Image Credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
Hazara communities in Afghanistan protest changes to new electricity line route
- Thousands from Hazara communities in the country are expected to protest after officials outlined a new route away from provinces with large Hazara populations for what they argue are technical and economic reasons.
- The electricity project is a part of the Asian Development Bank’s plan to connect energy-rich Central Asia with the energy-deprived countries of the western subcontinent.
- The resource row comes as the government has pledged increased protection for the Shiite Hazara minority, who have faced kidnapping and murder at the hands of militants in the Sunni-majority country.
“Afghan minority Hazaras plan protest over power line route” (Reuters)
“Afghan Kidnappers Prey on Hazaras” (The New York Times, November 2015)
“Hazara killings: Thousands protest in Afghanistan blaming militants for murder of seven villagers” (AFP/Reuters, via ABC, November 2015)
Bahrain revokes citizenship of dissidents as denaturalization campaign continues
- Five Bahrainis were stripped of their citizenship and sentenced to five to 15 years of jail time after being convicted of terror affiliation, public-institution disruption, and weapon possession.
- Political dissidents and human rights organizations have accused the Sunni monarchy of weaponizing citizenship for demographic redistribution and the suppression of dissent and rights advocacy among the Shia-majority population.
- Denaturalization is a controversial practice that leaves many effectively stateless and subject to deportation, with 208 Bahrainis having been denaturalized in 2015 alone.
“Manama Deprives Five More Bahrainis of Citizenship” (Tasnim News Agency)
“Bahrain: Stop Deportations of Nationals” (Human Rights Watch)
“Bahrain citizen expulsions ‘chilling’, says Amnesty” (Arabian Business)
(Image Credit: via Human Rights Watch)
Execution of Saudi Shiite leader sparks protests throughout the Middle East and South Asia
- From Saudi Arabia to India by way of Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, Shiite Muslims protested the Saudi government’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
- Nimr had been convicted of order followers to attack the police, a crime of “banditry” that carries an automatic death sentence.
- Before his arrest in 2012, Nimr had publicly called for nonviolent demonstrations to draw attention to the oppression of the minority Shia community in Saudi Arabia.
“Shi’ite Muslims worldwide decry execution of Saudi cleric” (Reuters)
“Protests in Kashmir, Bahrain and Pakistan over killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr” (The Guardian)
“Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Figurehead Shia cleric” (BBC)
(Image Credit: AFP, via BBC)
Shiite mosque bombed in southwest Pakistan, reportedly killing at least 10 and injuring at least a dozen
- Six children were among the dead after a suicide bomber disguised as a woman in full burqa attacked a mosque in Bolan district of Balochistan province.
- Though none have yet claimed responsibility, authorities suspect the attack to be the work of Sunni extremists against the country’s Shiite minority.
- The bombing took place as Shiites prepare to celebrate Ashoura, a 10-day period commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
“Suicide blast outside imambargah in Bolan district kills five” (Dawn)
“Bombing at Shiite Mosque Kills 10 in Southwest Pakistan” (AP via ABC News)
“Bombing at Shia shrine kills 10 in Pakistan” (The Hindu)
Taliban suspected in kidnapping of 12 ethnic Hazaras and murder of 3 in Afghanistan
- The kidnappings took place in the eastern province of Ghazni at the hands of unidentified gunmen, the latest kidnapping following the abduction of 30 Hazaras in February.
- Around the same time four bodies were discovered, three of which were Hazara and the fourth Pashtun.
- The Taliban are suspected of being behind the events as the community was a frequent target of anti-Shia campaigns during Taliban rule prior to the 2001 U.S. invasion.
Read the full story at the Daily Times.
Displaced Iraqis find support across sectarian lines in central Iraq
- In cities like Najaf and Hillah, Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike have provided humanitarian support to those displaced by Islamic State violence regardless of affiliation.
- Communities have rallied to include all in free evening iftar dinners and other forms of charity during Ramadan, with new arrivals discovering new economic opportunity as well.
- In late June, the UN put the number of internally displaced Iraqis at 3 million, mostly from the northern and western provinces.
“In reality, the situation is very different from what media outlets interested in political spats report. … You will not find sectarianism here. Sectarianism is found among political elites and armed factions, especially those who came from outside of Iraq, most notably IS.”
Read the full story at Al-Monitor.
(Image Credit: Ahmed Saad/Reuters, via Al-Monitor)