The policies of the Shiite-dominated government have prevented Sunnis from contributing effectively to building the Iraqi state and running its affairs. In recent years, the government has enacted several new laws and allegedly used them to marginalize and exclude Sunnis from political decision-making.
Results for Tag: Religion
At the root of the conflict between Iran and its Arab neighbours lies the Shia-Sunni divide, as the patrons of the two Muslim sects, Tehran and Riyadh respectively, are both prepared to promote and support their sectarian beliefs. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain can be viewed in this light. Yet it is also the result of an ordinary struggle between two regional powers.
After the end of Saddam Hussein’s reign in 2003, and the fall of the Baath party, the Iraqi media environment was rapidly opened up under American occupation. By 2004, over 200 newspapers had begun publishing, in addition to around 80 radio stations and 20 television channels. The Iraqi public were also quick to purchase satellite dishes and receive transmissions from abroad. A revised constitution created in 2005 enshrined media freedom, further adding to initial optimism about a new era for the Iraqi media. However, repressive government measures, exacerbated by sectarian tensions, violence and the seizure of territory by Islamic State (ISIS), have made the country one of the most hostile environments for journalists to operate in.
Lebanon’s 21st-century media is burgeoning, with private newspapers, radio stations, television channels and online publications. However, the environment is highly partisan and reflective of the country’s political and sectarian divisions. In fact, the Lebanese media’s most distinctive feature is that all major outlets are affiliated with a particular sect or political movement.
Anything that challenges the Wahhabi understanding of the Islamic faith (such as the sanctity and holiness of the Prophet’s companions) is subject to criminalization under the banner of sacrilegious behaviour. Punishments for blasphemy and apostasy include lengthy prison sentences, physical torture in the form of public flogging and, occasionally, death sentences.
While historical and theological antipathies do exist, it is rather Saudi Arabia’s political expediency that both prevents and advances equality between Shia and Sunnis. For the last decades, Saudi Arabia has allowed its government-sponsored Sunni clerics to demonize Shia believers, associate them with polytheists, therefore consolidating a history of oppression and ostracism from basic civil rights.