No safe place for Southeast Asia’s Shia Muslims

Rising anti-Shiite sentiment owes to Saudi-influenced Wahhabism, a literalist reading of Islam that promotes intra-religious persecution

Originally published by Asia Times (February 03, 2018)

 

An Islamic cleric in Malaysia stirred controversy last month after claiming that Shiites, members of a minority Muslim sect, pose a national-security threat and that action should be taken against them.

Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, the mufti of Perlis, a northwestern Malaysian state, said Shia Muslims could “threaten national security” and a movement was afoot among them to turn Malaysia into a “mullah state,” a reference to the theocratic Shiite rulers of Iran.

This is despite the fact that there are likely at most 200,000 Shiites in Malaysia, a Muslim majority country of more than 28 million, and none have been connected to domestic terrorist attacks or extremist groups. Malaysia’s Muslims, who dominate politics, are overwhelmingly Sunni.

 

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