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.

Serbian Raids Spark Worries of Islamic Militants

By Zoran Maksimovic from Balkan Insight

Over the last two years, Sandzak Wahhabis have been involved in occasional brawls and arguments in local mosques provoked by their attempts to impose new practices on mainstream believers. Wahhabi followers were involved in a incident at a mosque last November that ended in a shoot-out, though Wahhabis were not responsible for the gunfire. Last April, Wahhabis disrupted a concert in Novi Pazar's main square by a band from Belgrade ... Zoran Dragisic, a Belgrade-based military analyst, said recent developments "indicates the existence of dangerous processes in Sandzak." Such developments "can seriously disrupt relations not only in the area but in the wider region as one extremism creates another," Dragisic told Balkan Insight. "Sandzak society and the local Islamic community, as well as the state, now must protect itself from radical movements."