by Mohammed ABBAS
LONDON- A flood of anti-Shiite propaganda online and on satellite television is spreading bigotry and violence to countries which have so far had little experience of the sectarian hatred that has set the Middle East alight.
Shiite Muslims from Australia to Nigeria, from Britain to Indonesia, are increasingly the victims of intimidation and even violent attacks from fellow Muslims as hardline Sunni ideologies gain an ever more global reach.
“The rise of anti-Shiism or Shia-phobia, is quite concerning to Shiite communities living in the West, and the Internet, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook play a big role in promoting these hate messages,” said Yousif al-Khoei, a prominent Shiite community leader in London.
Khoei, a director of the Al-Khoei Foundation, a charitable and educational organisation, said there had been an increase in threats in Britain including against himself and has called for greater police vigilance.
Last year he helped Shiite victims of a violent attack by Islamic radicals, which the British press dubbed the “first case of Muslim sectarian violence in Britain”.
This year low level intimidation continues, Khoei said, particularly at some universities, where there have long been concerns over infiltration by Islamic radicals.
In Australia, a Shiite community leader was shot in the face outside a prayer hall on November 3, reportedly hours after passers by had shouted “Shiite dogs” and had threatened to return to carry out an attack.
In Nigeria, where attacks on Shiites are relatively rare despite widespread violence between Christians and Muslims, a suicide bomber killed 15 people at a Shiite ceremony, while in Vienna, a Shiite mosque was evacuated after a bomb threat.
And in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim state, an “Anti-Shia Alliance” led by hardline Sunni clerics this year held its first national convention.