Saudi Arab

Al-Ahsa Massacre: Protected Takfirism Spreading Over

Ali Ebadi

Saudi Arabia witnessed an attack on a Shiite shrine in al-Dalwah town, in Al-Ahsa governorate, the eastern province, and this profoundly breached its security. A taboo came into being. Unfortunately, the things that were usually only mentioned in religious ceremonies or posted on social networking websites have turned into reality.

Ahsa attackThe scene of the victim martyrs in al-Dalwah town looks similar to that of those who fall on daily basis in Pakistan as a result of the religious intolerance targeting every mosque, shrine, market, and/or neighborhood. The round of the takfiri terrorism that moved across many countries is now landing in Saudi Arabia, taking advantage of a reckless incitement. The masters of this kind of incitement push for waging war of genocide against the Shiites, because they believe that they are not true “Muslims”, and thus they decide to deprive this sect of all human rights.

In fact, the degree of hatred put on air by the channels that enjoy immunity from prosecution and are well-financed within the Kingdom is enough to pave the way for a devastating civil war. The results of this ongoing sectarian incitement were unavoidably going to appear in a violent and bloody manner.

Is this a beginning? The answer is believed, regrettably, to be yes. Perhaps, these fears explain the rapid steps taken by the Saudi security devices to catch some elements of the network that was engaged in shedding the blood of the Shia participants who were commemorating Ashura in Al-Ahsa governorate. However, the authorities did not do much to counter the violent Takfiri tide, except for their security efforts in the prosecution of elements and the issuance of condemnations by officials and by “the Council of Senior Scholars” as well. These authorities are as if going after the results and not the cumulative reasons, chasing the juvenile offender who is only firing shots and avoid bothering the major offender who stands behind the bloody scene and urges to commit acts of violence using various pretexts.

The crisis of the Takfiri movement

The disease is built up in the takfiri approach that is found at hand in the textbooks, on the platforms in mosques, and in websites. It is always prepared with null arguments, distorting the truth with falsehood and then restoring them in a strange way to convince its listeners that the Shiites are, for instance, the source of the scourge, and getting rid of them no matter how is the key to solving the crises of the nation, or rather the crisis of this arrogant movement.

This movement wants to omit the transparent interval between the practice of the so-called “active excommunication” (Takfir) adopted by the official Wahhabi school and between the actual interpretation of this discourse that its followers are in charge of; those who are revolting against what they consider an unnecessary appeasement. For this, we find in the heart of the protected religious movement those who call for pouncing on the Shia Muslims in the Kingdom, or in the best conditions inviting them “to accept Islam”, declaring them as disbelievers and violating their human dignities.

If truth is to be said, a word can easily act as bullets that are capable of blowing the social and political reality up and that would contain the seeds of fragmentation that meet with the U.S. calls to re-divide the region. This would happen in accordance with demographic and cultural considerations so as to be detached from the lines drawn by the SYKES-PICOT Agreement.

Though, those Takfiris might not realize this American orientation, might not be aware of the consequences, and might not care about the repercussions, for their priority is to invoke the spirit of revenge and to please their tendency towards punishing those who disagree with them, whomsoever.

Moving from the stage of excommunication to the stage of slaughtering reflects a worsening in the crisis of the Takfiri movement, which finds no other cause but only to raise hostility against its surroundings, the near before the far ones. Earlier, the takfiris themselves were attacking the Sunni Muslims who disagree with them. They were also insulting their Islam, claiming that they are seculars, liberals, or outlaws, and that they disobey “the guardian”, not to mention other accusations that facilitate violating the dignity of those people. Today, the Shiite Muslims have become their primary concern to the extent of threatening to mobilize the armies against the people of Al-Ahsa governorate and the nearby al-Qatif, as stated by a guest interviewed on “Al-Wisal” TV channel.

The takfiris use the events in Syria, Iraq, and in any other countries as a pretext to talk about a “Shiite plot that is targeting the Sunnis”, as they feel frustrated because of the governmental policies that failed to accomplish major political or developmental achievements during the past decades. Their only adopted method to deal with the others is eliminating or committing genocide against them, what makes others strongly dislike their rhetoric even among the Sunni Muslims themselves. Inside Saudi Arabia, they do not hesitate to doubt that the Shiite Saudis are not Muslims- (though they constitute not less than 10 percent of the total population reaching up to 20 percent and are located in the oil-rich eastern areas). They also distrust their patriotism every time they call for equity, for implementing a minimum level of the rights, and for recognizing them. This leads some Saudi Shiites to lose all hope in what the Authority could provide and think of alternatives that might be intense.

Protection and care

The problem relies in the fact that those takfiris are protected by the “guardian”. In other words, they are still controlled by the authority, but they are sending secret signals implying that they are ready to turn against the Authority, in case it showed insufficiency in its sectarian extremism approach. Perhaps being under its wing until now is what prevented the authority from taking any procedure against them, and that is why it prefers to avoid or to postpone confronting them, became it necessarily needs them to face “Al Qaeda”, the “ISIL”, the “Brotherhood”, and those who follow or support them. However, it always sees them as a cornerstone on which it can rely to build the authority and the State, and for this it gave them the green light and provided them with support far and wide.

The Saudi authority did not work hard to defuse the exploding situation, and it tirelessly treated the disease by coexisting with it. Even when the US officials during the era of Bush the son discussed with their Saudi counterparts the problem of the educational curricula that have tendency towards religious extremism, based upon which young men graduate having their mentalities full of bullets and bombs before obtaining them in their hands, the reaction remained limited because of the strong barrier of the Takfiri movement and the extension of its arms that reach to various aspects of education and space, as well as to the world of money and business. This comes in addition to the fact that it also has allies within the ruling family who seek to consolidate their influence.

Therefore, it was easy to sacrifice the Minister of Information and Culture, Abdul Aziz Khoja shortly after he took a decision to close the “Wisal” TV channel, which broadcasts from Riyadh violent hatred speeches against others. Perhaps, the Saudi authority believes that Khoja has stirred up a “hornet’s nest” and that he hurried to start a battle with a movement that is still forming the pillar of the Authority since the first days of founding the State of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authority has its double face and this is what prevented pushing the reforms that have been suggested in different eras forward.

Yet, a question remains: Was the Saudi authorities capable of containing the consequences of the attack on a religious ceremony commemorating Ashura in Al-Ahsa?

Despite all the security steps that have been taken to prosecute those involved in the attack and the fact that senior officials rushed to condemn it, this attack is but only an early warning that requires thorough treatments. If the authority did not take such steps, nothing would guarantee not repeating it. Precisely, the marginalization, discrimination, and the absence of the spirit of citizenship led to the outbreak of the sectarian discourse in a way that made things exceed the limits of proselytizing to reach to the extent of mobilizing against the citizens of the same country. I would like to quote here some part of what a Saudi man said on behalf of his fellow citizens:

“Terrorists are not born terrorists. They are the victims of the schools of extremism in their broad context i.e. of local culture, incapability to confront extremism, a defect in the system and a weakness of the judiciary. Extremist teachings and discourse increased because the situation was left to get worse. The circle of believers in extremism thus expanded until it all became as if we were living among the “ISIL” group. It’s as if extremism had settled everywhere, controlling the mentality of a huge minority and sparking fear among the majority who were afraid of confronting it facing it. The responsibility of confronting extremism must not be left up to hesitant, scared and suspicious people. The practice of leaving it up to such individuals has not stood the test of time. They have done nothing to deserve success during a whole decade since war was declared on extremism. Funds continue to be collected, leaflets continue to be distributed and extremist doctrines continue to reign over different media outlets. There are plenty of extremists in universities and schools – both teachers and students – and this leaves no room to doubt regarding the dangerous path of our future generations! Review the article by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed published by the Saudi Newspaper “Asharq Al-Awsat”: Fighting Extremism must not be left to the hesitant, Wednesday 6 November 2014).

The incident of Al-Ahsa massacre did not happen accidentally, but it is a rude interpretation of a dangerous approach that is increasingly threatening the heart of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia must admit that the problem, which the Kingdom has long been exporting, is now present inside its boundaries!

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