Alert: Shia Scholar Imprisoned by Saudi Security

Alert: Shia Scholar Imprisoned by Saudi SecuritySaudi security forces have raided the house of popular Shia scholar, Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr, and detained him in a yet unknown location. Early in the morning of Monday 16th March, Saudi internal security twice raided the house of the Sheikh, located in Al-Awwamiyyah in the Eastern Province, following which all contact with him was lost. The imprisonment of Sheikh Al-Nimr was expected after his harsh words directed towards the government in which he condemned the aggressions against Shia citizens in Madina. Sheikh Al-Nimr had also challenged the government directive that refrained Shias from performing congregational prayers on Friday in Al-Awwamiyyah. This flagrant attack against a popular Shia leader is indicative of the new modus operandi of the kingdom towards its Shia population in the aftermath of the clashes in Madina in which four Shia citizens were killed.

Alert: Shia Scholar Imprisoned by Saudi SecurityThe shadow of the bludgeon is being viciously restored over the Shia citizens of
Saudi Arabia by the kingdom’s security apparatus in the aftermath of the Baqee
clashes. On February 24, violent confrontations between Shia pilgrims and the
Saudi religious police and security forces took place in the close vicinities of
the Holy Mosque in Madina.
 
Some 2,000 Saudi Shia citizens had gathered to mark the commemoration of the
death of the Holy Prophet of Islam in Madina in late February, but were instead
battered down by the fanatical Wahhabi Muttawa’ah (moral police) aided by the
Saudi security forces. At least four pilgrims were killed and hundreds injured,
many of whom with critical injuries, when they were attacked with guns, knives
and sticks  
 
In the aftermath of the clashes, the Saudi security apparatus imposed several
restrictions on many towns and cities in the kingdom’s Eastern Province — the
kingdom’s main oil-producing region where Shias constitute 75 percent of the
population.
 
In order to quell tensions and to repair the damaged image of the monarchy’s,
now proven, phony interfaith exploits, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia invited a
delegation of Shia community leaders. This was however, a mere public stunt
aimed to bring a measure of calm to the situation. Just ten days earlier, the
Saudi king had refused to meet a Shia delegation after he announced a “reform”
agenda.
 
Caught in the cross hairs, the Saudi kingdom had to be seen to be ‘receding’
some ground so as to regain control over a tricky situation that could have so
quickly boiled over. More importantly, from the kingdom’s perspective, sustained
protests in the aftermath of the Baqee clashes risked to expose the deep-seated
suppression faced by Shia citizens within the kingdom to the eyes of the world.

 
Having made it past that hurdle, the kingdom has begun a systematic process of
chastising the Shia community by making an example of its leaders.
 
On 8th March 2009, reports surfaced that Saudi internal security had made Shia
citizens sign pledges that they would not establish congregational prayers.
 
Earlier today (16th March 2009), news sources from Al-Awwamiyyah in the Eastern
Province confirmed that popular Shia leader Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr had been
imprisoned at the hands of the Saudi security apparatus.
 
The security authorities raided the Sheikh’s home on two occasions this morning
following which no further information about his whereabouts could be confirmed.
 
The imprisonment of Sheikh Al-Nimr was expected following his harsh words
directed towards the government in which he condemned the aggressions against
Shia citizens in Madina. Sheikh Al-Nimr had also challenged a government
directive that prevented Shias from performing congregational prayers on Friday
in Al-Awwamiyyah.

Summary:

Saudi security forces have raided the house of popular Shia scholar, Sheikh Nimr
Baqir Al-Nimr, and detained him in a yet unknown location. Early in the morning
of Monday 16th March, Saudi internal security twice raided the house of the
Sheikh, located in Al-Awwamiyyah in the Eastern Province, following which all
contact with him was lost. The imprisonment of Sheikh Al-Nimr was expected after
his harsh words directed towards the government in which he condemned the
aggressions against Shia citizens in Madina. Sheikh Al-Nimr had also challenged
the government directive that refrained Shias from performing congregational
prayers on Friday in Al-Awwamiyyah. This flagrant attack against a popular Shia
leader is indicative of the new modus operandi of the kingdom towards its Shia
population in the aftermath of the clashes in Madina in which
four Shia citizens were killed.
 
Update:

At present, there are conflicting reports about the welfare and whereabouts of Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr. Sources from Al-Awwamiyyah had confirmed that the Saudi internal security had raided the home of the Shia leader twice but were unsure of whether the Sheikh was inside his home at the time of the raids. Security forces had surrounded his home before the morning prayer on 16th March in expectance that the Sheikh would leave his home to offer his prayers at which point he could easily be detained. Other reports that are trickling out suggest that the Sheikh had been transferred to a “safe” location before the raids occured. Meanwhile, security forces have begun conducting searches across Shia homes in the Eastern province. The cause for the raids was said to be Sheikh Nimr’s refusal to abide by the official ban passed by the government preventing him from holding Friday congregational prayers. A ban that has lasted for more than six months.

The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM) stated earlier in this regard:

“We categorically hold the Saudi government fully responsible for the welfare of Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr. The confirmed raids conducted on his home on 16th March 2009, and the surrounding conditions that supposedly justify these raids, leave no room as to doubt the evil intentions of the kingdom in its dealing with Shia citizens.”

Suggested Actions:
 
a) Write to the minister of foreign affairs in your country, urging him/her to
raise this issue with his/her Saudi counterpart.
 
Those situated in the UK can write to:
 
Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH
 
Email: [email protected]
 
b) Write to the Saudi ambassador in your country.
 
Those situated in the UK can write to:
 
HE Prince Muhammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud
30 Charles Street
W1J 5DZ
 
Email: [email protected]
 
c) Write to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
 
HE Ms. Navanethem Pillay
 
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
 
d) Write to your Local MP and request him/her to raise the matter with the relevant
bodies in the government.
 
Those situated in the UK can find their MP’s contact here:
 

http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/commons/l/

 
e) Write to human rights organisations and raise the matter of suppression
against Shias in Saudi Arabia, urging them to provide more coverage to the
situation.

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