Monday, February 05, 2007

Perspective: Saudi Shiites Fear Gains Could Be Lost

Shiites re-enact the killing of Imam Hussein during Ashura observations in Qatif, Saudi Arabia

QATIF, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 30 — As young men beat their chests in street processions marking the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura in this Shiite stronghold in eastern Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb looked on nervously, bracing for the region’s political conflicts to close in on this downtrodden community.

With sectarian tensions rising between Sunnis and Shiites throughout the Middle East, and pressure growing on the Saudi government by the country’s Sunni leadership, Saudi Shiites, who have made great strides in recent years, are worried that those gains will be rolled back.

“Things are dim and dark, and the worst is still to come,” said Mr. Mugaiteeb, a human rights campaigner who runs an unlicensed Saudi human rights monitor here in the Eastern Province. “As always the minorities will be most affected when this is done. But it will affect everyone else too.”

Read the rest at the NY Times