Bahraini government forces backed by Saudi Arabian troops are destroying mosques and places of worship of the Shia majority in the island kingdom in a move likely to exacerbate religious hatred across the Muslim world.
“So far they have destroyed seven Shia mosques and about 50 religious meeting houses,” said Ali al-Aswad, an MP in the Bahraini parliament.
He said Saudi soldiers, part of the 1,000-strong contingent that entered Bahrain last month, had been seen by witnesses helping demolish Shia mosques and shrines in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Mohammed Sadiq, of the Justice for Bahrain organization, said the most famous of the Shia shrines destroyed was that of a revered Bahraini Shia spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri, who died in 2006. A photograph taken by activists shows the golden dome of the shrine lying on the ground and later being taken away on the back of a lorry. On the walls of Shia mosques that have been desecrated, graffiti has been scrawled praising the Sunni King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and insulting the Shia.
The attack on Shia places of worship has provoked a furious reaction among the 250 million Shia community, particularly in Iran and Iraq, where Shia are in a majority, and in Lebanon where they are the largest single community.
Read more here: Patrick Cockburn: The Repression in Bahrain.