Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saudi Arabia: Shi'a pessimistic about reform, but seek reconciliation

by Fred Wehrey from the Arab Reform Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment

The Saudi Shi'i news service al-Rasid released its second annual human rights report in late April, a survey of discriminatory practices against the Kingdom's Shi'i minority. The lack of progress has caused many Shi'a to lose faith in official channels for reform such as the National Dialogue and the municipal councils ... Shi'i activists are also continuing a long-standing practice of dialogue and partnering with Salafi reformists in the western party of the country, who serve as what one figure described as a “strike force for reform, deep within the Najd” (the central province of Saudi Arabia from which the ruling family hails, and the birthplace of Wahhabism). But by their own admission, the Shi'i cooperation with other sects in the Kingdom has remained mostly at the informal level, through e-mails, personal contacts, and the occasional publishing of joint manifestos.

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