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Save the Lives of Shia Muslims and Shrines in Syria

Save the Lives of Shia Muslims and Shrines in Syria
July 20, 2012

Washington DC -According to our sources in Sayedah Zainab, Syria, 10 kilometers outside Damascus, thousands of Shi'a Muslims are in danger of massacre by the Free Syrian Army and groups affiliated with them. Shi'a Rights Watch has learned from many Shi'a Muslims living in the area that the Free Syrian army has threatened to massacre all the Shi'a in the area unless they flea.

Most of the Shi'a living in the area are refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries. The Shi'a community there flourished by building hospitals, schools, hotels, and shops. The Shi'as living in and around the area of Damascus have played no part in the ongoing violence that is occurring in Syria between the rebels and the government.

We call on the United Nations, the United States, and Members of the United Nations Security Council to immediately interfere to stop the imminent massacre of thousands of innocent Shi'a Muslims living around the holy shrine of the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohamed where a suicide bomber blew up an explosive laden car near the shrine weeks ago killing some and damaging the shrine itself.

The Free Syrian Amy and similar armed groups have previously stated their anti-Shi’a positions which led to the killing of dozens of Shi'a including 23 Iraqis killed in the past ten days and the beheadings of others. Several Shia scholars where killed including Syrian born Afghan Sayed Naser Alavi who was killed April 13, 2012 .

We specifically call on Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to use their influence on the Free Syrian Army to stop the massacre of Shi'a Muslims who have no involvement in the conflict between the Syrian government and the rebels. They have played no role in supporting either side.

We call on U.N. observers to travel to the area and prevent the Free Syrian Army and its affiliates from harming innocent Shi'a Muslims and their holy places.

We especially call on the international media and international community to immediately dispatch reporters to the region in order to prevent the ensuing tragedy by gaining international attention.

Threats of genocide have also come from outside Syria form people who fund the Free Syrian Army. A former member of the Kuwaiti Parliament Osama AlMunawer (Salafi Extremists) has promised to destroy the shrine of Sayedah Zainab, holding the remains of the granddaughter of Prophet Mohamed. AlMunawer made this statement on his twitter account July 18. The Kuwaiti government is responsible for AlMunawer’s statement as he holds its citizenship. The international community is requested to pressure Kuwait to hold such criminals to account.

We strongly condemn these terroristic actions against the Shi'a community in Syria and call for urgent action for the protection of these communities.


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