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Saudi Arabia aids ISIS with their anti-Shia ideology and persecutions

Written By | Jun 3, 2015
Shia Muslim

WASHINGTON, Saudi Arabia restarted the execution of Shia Muslims. Mustafa Darwish was arrested at the age of 15 for participating in protest demanding more rights, freedom, and equality in Saudi Arabia. Darwish was executed as soon as he reached 18 years old. The family of Mustafa indicated that they didn’t know about the execution. Not until they received a phone call from the prison stating Mustafa was executed.

The violence against Shia Muslims has been the agenda of Saudi authorities. No matter who becomes king, the agenda is the same. Shia Muslims who are living in the eastern province face extreme violence every day.

May 22, 2015, a suicide bomber entered Imam Ali mosque in Al-Qudaih, Qatif, Saudi Arabia, killing more than 20 people and leaving more than 130 wounded. Ambulances and medical staff did not respond to the scene of the explosion, a Shia mosque, leaving neighbors to move the bodies to the hospital in their own cars.

A second explosion took place on May 29, 2015. A car bomb in front of Imam Hussein mosque in the Dammam left four dead.




While ISIS detonated the bombs, the House of Saud laid the groundwork for the anti-Shia attacks.

On June 3, 2015, Saudi Arabia launched terrorist attacks on Shia mosques, with attackers killing men, women, and children praying for peace.

While the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, a major contributing factor is their hate against Shia Muslims. Hate that was fomented by the Wahhabi leadership in Saudi Arabia that believes that  Shia Muslims are heathens and enemies.

This is the culture that has encouraged ISIS to target Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia.

Wahhabism, a Sunni-based movement that started in the mid-18th century is the basis of Saudi Arabia’s religious ideology.

Wahhabism is the most austere and strict of the four schools of Sunni Islam and follows a literal interpretation of the Koran. Adherents of Wahhabism believe that all who do not follow Wahhabism are infidels.

Founded on the tenets of Wahhabism, the theology has long dominated Saudi Arabia. In 1744, the founder of the current Saudi royal family, Muhammed bin Saud, joined forces with the founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab making a pact whereby Wahhab backed Saud in his efforts to unify the various tribes of Arabia into a single country, Saudi Arabia, which Saud controlled.

In exchange, Saud agreed to continue his adherence to Wahhab’s religious ideology.

The agreement brought the nomadic militias that backed Wahhabi, called ikhwan (“brotherhood”), under the Saud umbrella and allowed Saud to win political and military victories that established the Saudi state.

The Saud dynasty has used Wahhabi scholars to provide religious legitimacy for its actions since that time and to move against its rivals.

As a result, Wahhabism and anti-Shia ideology has dominated the Saudi culture.

This extreme view of Islam by Saudi Arabia has led Riyadh to back extremist groups in the region who target Shia Muslims as well as Christians, Jews, and Izidis.



The Islamic State, also known as Daesh or ISIS, shares the Wahhabi’s extreme ideology. The Saudi government has designated ISIS a terrorist group and provides no direct funding to ISIS. It also prohibits private citizens from donating to terrorist groups.

However, Saudi donors, likely including at least some government officials, were believed to be the most significant funding source for the precursor group to ISIS. This funding likely allowed ISIS to thrive and develop its own financial sources.

The same ideology that prevented women from driving in Saudi Arabia leads to taking Christian, Izidis, and Shia women as slaves and to selling young girls to wealthy elder men in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For Wahhabi followers, the term “jihad” means a form of violence.

For Shia Muslims, the term “jihad” means sacrificing your time and life to make the community better, not pledging to fight against others.

In Saudi Arabia, Shia Muslims make up 15 percent of the population of Saudi Arabia. The Shia are systematically discriminated against, thanks to the prevalence of Wahhabism.

Organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Shia Rights Watch regularly report inhumane treatment of Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia. Yet there has been no action to prevent discrimination against the Shia minority in this country.

Shia, who have no right to citizenship in Saudi Arabia, are marginalized and excluded from the government. Even in provinces where the majority of the population is Shia, they have virtually no rights and are barred from participating in elections.

Mustafa Ahkwand

Mustafa Akhwand is founder of minority rights organization Shia Rights Watch. His peace advocacy efforts span from West to East as he facilitates non-violence on the ground in war-ridden nations such as Iraq. He founded the Shia Rights Watch, which focuses on the humanitarian rights of Shia Muslims. Mustafa Hold BCS (Bachelor of Computer Science) and BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) and MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University focusing on Dynamic of Violence. Mustafa has also led facilitation, mediation, and peace-building programs in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.