This was certainly not the ideal pilgrimage to Mecca that this American Islamic scholar had hoped for.
Saudi police beat him senseless while taunting him and laughing with amusement in a private room at Mecca.
Al-Huda News reported:
For Shia pilgrims to Mecca and Medina, few can forget what occurred in 1987. Each year prior to that, a group of Iranians, Saudis, and other nationals held a peaceful, Saudi government-approved demonstration to denounce internal hypocrisy in Islam (even though it was a not-so subtle jab at the Saudi monarchy). It was a tradition started by Imam Khomeini after the Iranian Revolution and one that continued with barely a scuffle for years.
In 1987, however, an argument broke out between demonstrators and Saudi police in which the police opened fire, forcing the demonstrators to flee in a stampede-inducing frenzy. Over four hundred people were killed with another 649 injured, an event described in vivid detail in the book Iran’s Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami. While discrimination in Mecca and Medina continued afterwards against anyone the Saudi government deemed outside its definition of Islam, actual violence against worshippers rarely did.
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That uneasy but stable status quo was broken on August 5th when a group of Shia pilgrims from the US and the UK were physically harassed, verbally insulted, and then detained by Saudi authorities. In a letter now widely circulated on the Internet, one participant, Syed Jawad Qazwini (pictured), an Islamic scholar and community leader based in Florida, extensively documents the abuses he saw committed against himself and his group. [Editor: Click here to read Syed Jawad Qazwini’s personal account of what happened.]
According to his account, his umrah delegation was praying inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca and were within earshot of a Saudi appointed religious scholar lecturing on Islam.The speaker allegedly repeated familiar anti-Shia canards — Shia Muslims worship the dead, are hypocrites, and gave Muslim lands away to the enemy (a reference to the support many Shia leaders gave to the overthrow of Saddam Hussain).
A young man then approached the religious police and told them that they should not disrespect Shia Muslims. Qazwini, a 25-year-old Iraqi American, urged the young man to ignore the incident but tension ensued and the police became physical. “They began to hit us with chairs, bats, radio communication devices, their fists, kicks, and punches continually,” recounted Qazwini. “They were hitting us with so many blows that I could not hold them back,” added another pilgrim, Mustafa Field.
The Saudi police responded with a barrage of insults, reportedly telling the worshippers that they were “all cowards and we will purify the holy mosque from the Shia,” according to Qazwini’s account. Qazwini then told the police that they were “guests of Allah” and that they were “in no position to go against Allah and the government of your king.”
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The police officer then pushed Qazwini aside and arrested him, reportedly dragging him to a detention center within the mosque with several members of his group trailing behind. While the detention center was cleared of others, Qaswini claimed that a Saudi official boasted to other officers that he had caught an “Iraqi Shia causing problems”.
With the room now empty, a police officer then threw his boot at Qazwini, hitting his forehead. “I was in more pain and I could barely see,” wrote Qazwini. “I had a severe headache. He then proceeded to beat me and he was laughing with amusement, telling the rest on the police in the room how good it felt to hit a Shia.
More at Al-Hudna.
H.T. American Liberty