According to the authors, Shiites in Saudi Arabia are confined between the state which is based on “Wahhabism”, (an extreme orientation that excludes other sects) and Shiite political movements which emerged after the Iranian revolution. They believe that both orientations have utilized politics to impact doctrine, emphasizing particularly on Sherazi since it is considered the most influential trend in the Shiite community. However, after the death of Al-Shirazi, his followers divided into three groups Alsaffar, Sadiq Al-Shirazi and Al-madrasy which stand side by side with other movements which was already exists.
On the other hand, a fourth Shiite group which is based in London and opposes government and at a later stage the agenda of Alsaffar group is to be included.
Among this trend Dr. Hamza Al-Hassan and Fouad Ibrahim who met with Al-madrasy trend especially Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in refuting Al-Saffar’s political plan in the country. Al-Hassan launched a sharp attack on Al-Saffar trend since he doesn’t believe in openness and dialogue with the state as much as achieving demands through demonstration.
However, Salafis raised analyses of “Shiite Movement in Saudi Arabia” on TV channels and newspapers, confirming that Shiites in the Gulf are means utilized by Iran in order to achieve political goals in the region.
This book is characterized by objectivity in raising issues unlike other Shiite writings which concentrate mainly on oppression and discrimination but I found four major shortening.
Firstly, it is clear that the most important thing to the authors was just issuing the book regardless of proper historical methodology which led to weaken and make the book similar to a news report.
Although I am not questioning the accuracy of the information which was taken from many sources, there is negligence in reviewing the materials without observance of proper documentation.
Secondly, it is obvious that the authors summarized some of the important events which impair the content and misled readers. For example, they overlooked some details of Baqi events, which took place in 2009 between Shiites from the Eastern Region and religious authorities and later on stirred the tense situation which led to demonstrations in Qatif.
Thirdly: Although the book was titled “Shiite Movement in Saudi Arabia”, the authors had not evenly covered the Shiite issues outside Qatif. There is shallowness in presenting information about other Shiite community because the authors did not try to get the correct information from its original sources.
Also in covering the municipal elections in Al-Ahsa, they said that “Shiite religious trends were united” which is not true because Shiites were divided and several confrontations between them took place.
Fourthly, In spite of changing in Al-Saffar’s political discourse, the authors presented this group as a representative of Shiites before the state and concluded that its discourse is incompatible with its aim of national integration. They indicated that this group failed in its mission because of being a religious trend.
The authors also generalized this idea on Saudi Shiites including individuals, groups and intellectuals, explaining that politicalized religion is the cause of the failure in addressing sectarianism.
They concentrated in the experience of Al-Saffar trend without proper review of its intellectual development or thoroughly read the publications and speeches of this group.
In my opinion till date, Al-Saffar trend has the best initiative of openness and national integration on the ground.
This article was published by Afaq Center on March 31, 2013