Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Saudi Arabia has permitted government-appointed scholars and clerics to incite hatred and discrimination against the country’s religious minorities, including Shia Muslims.
In a 62-page report, entitled “‘They Are Not Our Brothers’: Hate Speech by Saudi Officials” and released on Tuesday, the HRW said Saudi clerics often refer to Shias as rafidha or rawafidh, which mean rejectionists, and stigmatize their beliefs with impunity.
It cited a member of Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars, the kingdom’s highest religious body, as saying that Shia Muslims “are not our brothers ... rather they are brothers of Satan.”
“Saudi Arabia has relentlessly promoted a reform narrative in recent years, yet it allows government-affiliated clerics and textbooks to openly demonize religious minorities such as Shia,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.
“This hate speech prolongs the systematic discrimination against the Shia minority and – at its worst – is employed by violent groups who attack them,” she added.