SHAFAQNA- Saudi Arabia’s Shia Muslims are regularly marginalized and discriminated against in their daily lives, whether in education, political or social life. Although Shia Muslims make up about 10 to 15 percent of the population, they are underrepresented in senior government positions. Shia Muslims have remained less represented in official positions and are unlikely to make progress in the future.
There were no Shia ministers, deputy ministers, governors, deputy governors, or ministry branch directors in the Eastern Province. In Saudi Arabia, Shia Muslims face regular discrimination in the work place, according to The center for academic Shia studies. They are denied access to certain careers, limited in their options for promotion.
Shia faced significant employment discrimination
Shia faced significant employment discrimination in the public and private sector. A very small number of Shia occupied high-level positions in government-owned companies and government agencies. Many Shia believed that openly identifying themselves as Shia would negatively affect career advancement.
In the public sector, Shia were significantly under-represented in national security- related positions, including the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, the National Guard, and the Ministry of the Interior, according to Globalsecurity.
Shia were better represented in the ranks of traffic police, municipalities, and public schools in predominantly Shia areas.
There is no formal policy concerning the hiring and promotion of Shia in the private sector.
Qatif community leaders described allegedly prejudicial zoning laws that prevent construction of buildings over a certain height in various Shia neighborhoods. The leaders claimed the laws prevented investment and development in these areas and aimed to limit the density of Shia population in any given area.
Shia build community centers in private homes
Saudi government does not officially recognize several centers of Shia religious instruction located in Eastern Province. Moreover, the government refused to approve construction or registration of Shia community centers. Shia were forced to build areas in private homes to serve as community centers. These community centers sometimes did not meet safety codes, and the lack of legal recognition made their long-term financing and continuity considerably more difficult.
Another important point worth to be mentioned is the fact that, Saudi government continued to exclude Shia perspectives from the state’s extensive religious media and broadcast programming.
Saudi officials also blocked access to some Websites with religious content it considered offensive or sensitive. In a similar vein, Saudi government sporadically imposed bans on the importation and sale of Shia books and audiovisual products. In addition, terms like “rejectionists,” which are insulting to Shia, were commonly found in public discourse and could be found on Websites.