Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bahrain's embattled Shiites keep parliament seats

Manama (Bahrain), Oct 24 - Bahrain's embattled Shiite-led opposition held on to all of its parliament seats in weekend elections, according to official results announced today, but fell short of the majority it hoped to win as a show of strength against the island kingdom's Sunni rulers.

The leaders of the strategic US ally have waged a campaign of arrests and intimidation against suspected Shiite opponents since August, claiming they seek to undermine the ruling system and could open the door for Shiite powerhouse Iran to exert influence in the heart of the Arab Gulf.

Shiites in Bahrain say they only seek greater rights and opportunities after being shut out from key decision-making roles in the country.

The main Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, kept its 18 seats in the 40-member legislature. Even without a majority in yesterday's election, it could still forge alliances with liberal parties and others to eventually gain the upper hand in parliament for a symbolic slap to Bahrain's leaders.

As in the last elections, in 2006, the Shiite group said there were irregularities, including at least 890 voters being turned away from polling stations in mostly Shiite areas because their names were not on electoral lists.

There were also allegations that voting districts were gerrymandered to undercut the Shiites' numerical strength Bahrain is one of the few Arab countries with a Shiite majority, though it is ruled by a Sunni dynasty.

We really aren't satisfied with the outcome, said Al Wefaq leader Sheik Ali Salman. We are the majority of the country and a majority of the voters, but we don't get a majority of the seats. Why is that? It is clear that the government is doing this to keep us from gaining a bigger voice. We won't be satisfied until the election rules have changed.

Bahrain does not allow international election monitors.

The claims could result in challenges to the outcome and complicate hopes of cooling tensions after waves of arrests and street clashes between majority Shiites who claim widespread discrimination and the Sunni leadership seeking to maintain its grip.

Bahrain's parliament has only limited powers and can be overruled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and his inner circle. Still, many Shiites hoped that gaining more seats would have sent a message not to ignore their demands for a greater say in how the country is run.

The king opened Bahrain's clan-based political system after taking power in 1999 and introduced the parliamentary elections, creating one of the few elected legislative bodies in the region.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) terrorists arrested over targeted Shia killings

Karachi (Pakistan),  Oct. 11 -   Terrorists of the banned terrorists religious outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), have been arrested over their involvement in targeted sectarian violence and weapons recovered from their custody, claimed Capital City Police Officer (CCPO)-Karachi Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari on Sunday at a press conference held at the Central Police Office.

He informed that During the course of investigations, a police team under the supervision of SSP Investigation West Zone Khurram Waris on a tip off conducted a raid on Saturday night in Iqbal Market Block-D Sector-11 1/2, and after an encounter, arrested two wanted terrorists.

The men have been identified as Naseem Haider alias Ferron and Asif Rasheed alias Dumba. The police also recovered one SMG, two TT pistols, one 9mm pistol, one repeater gun and several rounds from their custody. Both the accused have been shifted to the investigation unit for interrogation.

While CCPO Leghari described the accused Haider as a hardened terrorist of the banned LJ, other officials said that Haider joined the LJ group in 1997, and was sent to Afghanistan to receive training from notorious terrorist Khalid Bin Waleed. Once his education in handling various kinds of weapons concluded, he was sent back to Karachi with the orders to kill people from various sects.

From 2000 to 2003, Haider was involved in a number of sectarian killings, but was arrested in 2003 by the Sindh police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over his involvement in five cases of sectarian killing. He was released on bail by a court in 2007 for want of evidence, and subsequently, restarted his criminal activities.

The CCPO added that Haider was heading a group of terrorists active in Karachi, and was involved in killing Shia and Ahmadi doctors. After his release, he met up with his associates, including Waseem alias Baroodi, and they formed four to five-member cells.

Haider was planning an attack on a worshiping place of the Ahmadis before his attack, the CCPO said. Further, he said, the held suspect is a named accused in two FIRs; one lodged at Iqbal Market Police Station in connection with Maulana Ghulam Mohammed’s murder, while the other registered in the Pakistan Bazaar Police Station for killing a man named Shahzad. Further probe is under way.

It may be noted here that the Shia Community of Orangi Town area had demanded the arrest of Naseem alias Ferron and Asif alias Dumba. They were former members of Muttahida Qaumi Movements student wing APMSO and now performing their terrorist’s activities under the cover of Sipah-e-Sahaba’s and Laskhar-e-Jhangvi.

The area people informed the Shiite News via their emails that these terrorists were involved in the killing of scores of Shia’s community in Orangi Town and local organizational setup of MQM, a coalition party of PPP, was also supported these terrorists.

Some people said that they were also involved in the assassination of MQM’s Shia MPA from Organi Town Shaheed Raza Haider.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Worrying times : Shia Muslims in the Gulf

Courtesy :  The Economist

FOR minorities, success is best in small doses. Too much may stir bigotry and charges of dual loyalty, or even make some within the minority dangerously impatient for change. Shias on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf have long lived with such ironies. Largely ignored through centuries under Sunni rulers, they now feel increasingly exposed.

First came the Islamic revolution of 1979 in neighbouring Iran, whose ripples frightened those rulers and emboldened their Shia subjects, leading to ugly clashes that subsided only in the 1990s. The more recent rise of Shia influence in Iraq and the success of Hizbullah, the Shia party-cum-militia in Lebanon, have caused similar waves, made stronger by Iran’s bid to become the dominant—and perhaps nuclear-armed—regional power.

Conditions for Shias vary among the Gulf monarchies but had until recently been broadly improving. In relaxed and relatively liberal Kuwait, where Shias account for a third of the ultra-rich citizenry, they have long been prominent in business and in government. Some hold high office in Bahrain, too, but proportionately far fewer than their two-thirds share of the island kingdom’s population.

Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Shias at 2m-odd, but they are thinly diluted in a population ten times bigger and are subject to more systematic discrimination. No Shia has become a cabinet minister or general—or even a headmistress in a state school, reflecting the Saudis’ severe Wahhabism, in effect the kingdom’s official doctrine. Still, in recent years the Saudi government has loosened some strictures on Shia worship and forced extremist Sunni clerics to lessen their anti-Shia vitriol.

Those gains look fragile amid a mood of rising sectarian tension across the region. In Bahrain, months of agitation by Shias campaigning for greater rights have led to growing government fears of worse to come in the event of trouble with Iran. Pressure from Saudi-aligned Sunni radicals has led to a full-scale crackdown on Shia politicking. Widespread arrests, the closure of mainstream Shia websites and newspapers, and the banning of some Shia preachers from mosque pulpits have combined to tilt much of Shia opinion into sullen hostility to the state.

Sectarian jitters

Many Bahrainis were shocked when a prominent Shia cleric, Ayatollah Hussein Mirza Najati, was ordered to be stripped of his citizenship. By contrast, Bahrain’s Shias often complain that the government has secretly given citizenship to thousands of foreign Sunnis in a bid to alter the sectarian balance. Moderate Shias still counsel patience with the ruling al-Khalifa family, whose promises of reform a decade ago had quelled unrest until now. But clouds may be gathering ahead of a parliamentary election due next month.

Kuwait’s authorities have grown jittery, too. Following sustained pressure from Islamist Sunni members of parliament, the emirate revoked the Kuwaiti passport of Yasser al-Habib, a Shia preacher exiled in London, whose sermons suggesting that one of Muhammad’s wives had poisoned the prophet prompted widespread outrage, including condemnation by fellow Shia clerics. Alarmed by a spate of calls for Sunni protests, Kuwaiti police have banned all public meetings.

More quietly, Saudi authorities have for months been harassing local Shia campaigners, arresting dozens and holding many for weeks at a time. A ban on fatwas by independent Sunni clerics has muted public attacks on Shias, but Sunni chat-sites on the internet still describe them menacingly as a fifth column for Iran.

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