Sunday, 24 December 2006

Shia equality or Shia supremacy?

Reza Hossein Borr

Shia equality or Shia supremacy?

Every human being as a citizen of a country has an equal right of participation in political process. The person may be a Shia, a Sunni, a Christian, a Jew or the follower of any other religion. As the Declaration of Human Rights has stated all human beings are equal and must be treated equally and must have equal opportunities in their countries. If we accept this article of the Declaration of Human Rights we must also accept that the Shias must have equal rights with the Sunnis wherever they live and the Sunnis must have equal rights with the Shias wherever they live. If we consider equality of rights as the most important value that governs the relationships between different people we campaign for something which is just, acceptable and supportable.

If we campaign for the supremacy of one religion, we act in contrast of the value of equal rights and therefore, our campaign is not just, is not acceptable and must not be supported. It is true that many Shias in the Islamic world have no equal rights in many areas of life but it is also true that the Sunnis of Iran have less rights than any Shia in any Islamic country. Iran has taken the role of championing the rights of the Shia people. It is fighting relentlessly in all countries to secure their rights but Iran which is dominated by the Shias, have deliberately denied the most basic rights of the Sunnis in the last 28 years.

Discriminations against the Sunnis

Discrimination against the Sunnis covers every part of life from education, to politics, business, religion and business. These are some examples:

1. Educational discrimination against the Sunnis of Iran

There are 44,000 students in Iranian Baluchistan universities. Even 4, 000 of them are not Sunni Baluch. The Iranian government deliberately does not allow the Sunni Baluch of Iran to enter universities freely. This is while, according to one United Nations research, the Baluch children are the most talented children in Iran. This policy is pursued in all other Sunni dominated areas. Only in one county of Baluchistan, there are 500 schools which are built with cardboards and tents.

2. Political discrimination against the Sunnis of Iran

Since the beginning of the revolution, the Shia regime of Iran has not allowed even one Sunni to become prime minister, president, minister, an army general, and an ambassador. There is not even one single Sunni in Iranian Foreign Ministry. There is not even one Sunni chief executive in the whole country. All the officials in the Sunnis provinces and cities are the Shias who have been appointed by the Shia government.

3. Religious discrimination against the Sunnis of Iran

The Iranian media and leaders cite every day dozens of insulting remarks about the principles of Sunni religion. They have published hundreds of books which discredit the most important values of Islam. Even the Iranian government has built recently a huge temple to promote Abu Lo Lo, the killer of Omar, the second Caliph, as a great Islamic figure. The regime celebrates every year the murder of Omar by staging some ceremonies in which his effigy is burnt in public.

There are about one million Sunnis in Tehran, the capital of Iran, but the Iranian authorities do not allow them to build even one mosque. They are not allowed to perform their prayers in other Shia mosques. When they try to perform Friday prayers in parks, the security forces attacked them.

4. Economic discrimination against the Sunnis of Iran

99% of the Iranian businesses are under the control of the Shia population of Iran while 30% of Iranian population is Sunni. The government creates every barrier for the Sunnis to stop them from starting or developing their businesses. The major import and export licences are allocated to the Shia business. Even in the main cities of Sunnis, all the facilities of business are given to the Shias to deliberately impoverish the Sunni population of Iran. 70% to 80% of Sunnis are unemployed.

Shia inclusions in political and economics sources in Sunni dominated countries

While Iran is applying all kinds of discriminations against the Sunnis, the Sunni governments are quite generous towards their Shia population. It is a paradox that a regime that is fighting for the rights of the Shias in different countries discriminates more than any other country against the Sunnis in Iran. The Sunni governments are usually inclined to include the Shias in political and economic powers. These are some examples:

1. Pakistan

Everybody knows Bhtto family in Pakistan. They are a Shia family but they have governed Pakistan three times. There have been other Shia presidents and prime ministers in Pakistan. The Shias in Pakistan enjoy complete equality in a Sunni dominated country. There have been many Shia ministers in all governments of Pakistan from the beginning of Pakistan up to now. There are Shia army generals, there are Shia ambassadors and diplomats and there are big Shia businessmen. They have their own mosques. There are Shias in different levels of civil service too.

2. Afghanistan

There are several Shia ministers in Afghan government. There have been always Shia ministers in various Afghan regimes. There are Shia governors in Afghanistan. There are Shia army generals in Afghanistan. There are very rich Shia businessmen in Afghanistan too.

3. Kuwait

There are two Shia ministers in Kuwait. There are many Shia generals in Kuwait army. There are many Shia diplomats in the Foreign Ministry. There are many Shia businessmen in Kuwait. They have their mosques and they are free to perform their prayers.

4. The state of Qatar

There are dozens of Shia ministers, army generals, ambassadors, businessmen and high officials in Qatar and other Arab countries.

While we see that there are so many Shia high officials in Islamic and Arab world, why there is not even one single high official from the Sunnis in Iran? Why there is so much discrimination against the Sunnis in a regime that claims to embody Islamic justice, Islamic equality and brotherhood? And why there is so much silence about the exclusions of Sunnis from all sources of power in Iran? If the Shia government of Iran is fighting for the rights of Shias everywhere, why the Sunni governments of the world are not fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran?

Practically the Shias have had secured their supremacy in Iran at the cost of 30% of its Sunni population. Now they are seeking supremacy in other countries. For them the idea of equal rights is not a value of considerable importance when it comes to getting their own supremacy but when they do not have equal rights in other countries, they make a great issue of it.

What is disturbing everybody is not the quest of the Shias for their equal rights but their desire for supremacy. That has generated considerable resistance everywhere. Iran as the main Shia country must accept the value of equal rights for all its citizens inside Iran and then make its case for the equality of rights of the Shias in other countries. Nobody believes in Iranian campaign for the equal rights of the Shias in the Islamic countries if the Iranian regime does not believe in the equal rights of Sunnis in Iran. The Iranian regime must make itself first a believable example and must establish a model system which is a model of equality.

Iran has challenged other Islamic countries that they were not following the Islamic principles of brotherhood, equality and justice. If the government believes in these principles it must implement them fully and completely in Iran first. Once Iran is the embodiment of equality and justice, many other people and governments would follow it voluntarily. The Iranian regime can bring more credibility to its own system and to its own religion if it carries out what it preaches.

Nobody is ready to accept the supremacy of the Shias. It is a delusion that may initially grab some points but finally as the quest for supremacy is conducted recklessly, as it is done by the present regime of Iran, it will backfire and would result in the suppression of Shias in different countries.

30% of Iranian population is Sunni. Eight of its provinces are dominated by the Sunnis. Yet there has not been even single minister, army general, ambassador or a top official in the last 28 years in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The situation is clear. There is no the idea of equal rights in the minds of the Shia population of Iran and specifically the rulers of Iran. The other amazing thing is the complete silence of the ordinary Shia people over the suppression of the Sunnis. Even more amazing is the complete silence of the Iranian politicians, intellectuals, journalists and political activists over the total exclusion of Sunnis from all sources of power. The systematic discrimination that has been carried out against the Sunnis of Iran has not been criticised by any Iranian Shia politician. It seems that there is a total consensus among all Shia groups of Iran about the exclusion of Sunnis from all sources and centres of political and economic powers while all of them collectively protest strongly against the discrimination carried out against the Shias in Sunni dominated countries.

The Shia groups of different political tendencies have differences but these differences are all about who has the power and who must have it. All governments of Iran have taken over the power with great promises of equality of rights and equality of opportunity but as soon as they got established, they adapted the same old policies of oppression and suppression of different classes and groups and specifically the Sunnis.

Discrimination by Iranian media and journalists against the Sunnis

The Iranian media of the Shia opposition groups follow the same policy of discrimination against Sunnis. They publish everyday hundreds of articles and news on every aspect of life in Iran but they refuse to publish the news of hanging of the Sunnis of Baluchistan by Iranian regime. If a Shia journalist gets arrested, they follow every movement of his family and report every thing about him to maintain his presence in the media. If ten Sunnis get killed in Baluchistan, the opposition media of Iran refuse to publish the news that even have been published by the Iranian regime. The Iranian media publish hundreds of articles about the Shia political prisoners in other countries and refuse to publish any article on the political prisoners of Sunni community of Iran.

Even those security forces of Iran who have defected to the West reveal the secrets of serial killings of the Shia intellectuals and journalists but they refuse to disclose the serial killings of the Sunni leaders and intellectuals. All the Shia politicians and journalists of Iran seem to agree with the present government in its policies of genocide and complete exclusion of the Sunnis.

The same media that applied discrimination against the Sunnis publish widely any news about the persecution of the Shias in the Sunni countries. They report widely the news of Hezbollah and the Shia demonstration in Bahrain. They portray the Hezbollah as the hero of the Arab world and the Shias of Bahrain as the oppressed people who have been persecuted by Bahrain authorities but they refuse to publish the news of executions and persecutions of the Sunnis in Iran.

These are not only the Shias of Iran who have dominated other religions; the Shias of Iraq are perusing the same path. If the Shias in Iraq are not seeking supremacy why did they dissolve the Iraqi army, civil service and Iraqi secret services? If those establishments were allowed to function, today the situation would have been much better. Cleansing the Sunnis from the sensitive cities and areas in Iraq is seeking Shias supremacy. The same could be true about Lebanon. If the Hezbollah is not looking for supremacy why it is seeking the toppling of an elected government which has been elected democratically and freely according to the Lebanese constitution?

It is right for the Hezbollah to have its appropriate share in Lebanese government but it is also the right for the Sunnis in Iran to fight for their fair share of power. The Sunnis of Iraq have the same rights that the Shias have in Iran and Lebanon.

As evidence demonstrates it seems that wherever the Shias are in power the Sunnis are completely excluded. Is there a deep-rooted discriminatory belief in Shia mind?

Reza Hossein Borr is a leadership consultant and the creator of 150 CDs.
He is also the author of Manual Success, Manual of Coaching and Mentoring, Motivational Stories that Can Change Your Life, and a New Vision for the Islamic World. He can be contacted by email:

©Copyright, Reza Hossein Borr, 2006, London, UK

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