Date :Friday, February 19th, 2021 | Time : 23:01 |ID: 199508 | Print

Destruction of religiously and culturally significant Shia sites in Saudi Arabia

SHAFAQNA- Putting pressure on the Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia and destroying their holy places has been a policy long held by the ruling regime, not even limited to past century. The Saudi government has undertaken a systematic campaign to minimize Shia religious and cultural heritage in the country.

Since 1925, Saudi Arabia has destroyed about 98 percent of the religious and historical sites in the country. It razed to the ground many mosques, tombs, and shrines with historical religious, cultural significance in Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Awamia, and Al-Khobar. It also banned visits to shrines of Islamic historical figures with final goal being destruction of them under a Wahhabi-provided justification of the act of pilgrimage being polytheism. The destructions mainly targeted the Shia sanctities.

In 1926, Saudi reduced to rubles Moallah cemetery in Mecca and parts of Al-Baqi in Medina. Moallah cemetery dates back to the pre-Islam period and in the recent centuries was named Bani Hashim cemetery. Abdal-Mutalib, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Talib, the Prophet’s uncle, the Prophet’s wife Khadija bint Khuwaylid (S.A), and many Shia clerics who died or were killed in Mecca are buried in this cemetery. Al-Baqi cemetery is home to graves of a number of the Shias and companions of the Prophet (PBUH), Alwaght told.

Demolition of the cultural sites with religious significance continued through to the late 20 century. In 1989, Saudi authorities exhumed the grave of the Prophet’s (PBUH) father Abdullah (AS) and destroyed the Prophet’s (PBUH) iconic home.

Masjid Al-Haram expansion plan accompanied with removal of historical sites

Masjid Al-Haram expansion plan in 2011 was accompanied with removal of historical, cultural, and religious sites. One site was the house of Khadija. The Saudi authorities constantly demolish the Shia holy sites and mosques as part of a policy of systematic crackdown and torture, including destruction of the house of the first Shia Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (AS).

In 2013, the government used concrete to fill in the gap at Mount Uhud, north of Medina, where the Prophet Muhammad was nursed after being wounded in battle. Moreover, Saudi authorities ordered the demolition of a Mosque in which Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr led the prayers. According to Merat al-Jazeera website, the Imam Hussein (AS) Mosque in Qatif, Eastern Province, destroyed under the pretext of development projects.

The Saudi state’s destruction of significant religious and cultural sites is prompted by the government’s particular interpretation of Islam and by religious and religious-political-business interests. The practice of justifying the destruction of historical and religious sites in the two holy cities continue to be justified by Wahhabi clerics of Saudi Arabia.

This attitude demonstrates that the Kingdom of Saudi negatively views its Shia populace. Government-sponsored attempts to minimalize the religious and cultural practices of its Shia minority represent only one facet of its efforts to marginalize the Shia community.

The systematic destruction of Saudi Arabia is under way—in silence. Historic mosques, tombs, mausoleums, monuments and houses of the old quarters of the holiest cities of Islam has been razed to make room for a new urban landscape of hotels, shopping centres and apartment blocks.

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