In the past, the representatives of Muslim trends and sects used to live without any disputes. In many cases, their cooperation and shared vision were obvious throughout their performance. However, nowadays, more and more contradictions occur between Shias and Sunnis. This tension violates the laws of Islam, increasing the development of extremist groups.
In Islamic world and especially in Saudi Arabia, Shias are given special attention. Liberalist Bayan Perazzo states that Sunnis in Saudi Arabia express a hostile attitude towards Shias. They declare that Shias are misguided since they do not call on Allah. This data was collected through the interviews. Among interviewed Shias, 82 participants state that they have never been given a chance to defend themselves against this sentiment. 100% of interviewees clarify that it is socially unacceptable to discuss the issues of Sunni and Shia in Saudi Arabia. Shias there cannot find a well-paid job, even though many of them are well-educated. Although Shias are convinced in the oneness of God and the fact that Mohammed was His prophet, they are still imposed to discriminative practices on the part of Sunnis who do not consider them Muslims.
The government prevents them from worshiping freely. The author states that many of Shias feel it necessary to hide their identities in order to be respected by other Saudis. These people experience discrimination on a personal level; nonetheless, it is never declared in public. These are the reasons why upheavals take place in the last years. These people hope to gain religious freedom and respectful attitudes of the majorities. Their protests aim at raising people`s awareness of Shias` discrimination on a religious basis (Perazzo). The research indicates that Shias and Sunnis live in constant misunderstanding that raises tension between two sects of the same religion. This fact raises politicians` concerns, forcing them to take measures and unite the two.
Recep Erdogan, the representative of social conservatism, in the magazine “Daily Sabah” expresses his ideas on how to unite Shias and Sunnis. The acts are considered barbarism and must be condemned by all Shiite and Sunni Muslims since Islam rejects all forms of extremism, terrorism, and violence. It teaches to seek balance in all the actions. Islam means peace and justice, and every Muslim should remember it. He states that peace can be achieved through good deeds, virtue, and faith. One of the ways to unite Sunnis and Shiites is to trace back the historical development of Islam and the role that both sects played in this development. All Shiites and Sunnis should strive to preserve their heritage and unity in the name of Islam. Erdogan also specifies that people of both sects can be united by the works of scientists, poets, artists, and community leaders who contribute to Muslims` spiritual, cultural, and religious heritage. Famous politicians bear responsibility for teaching fundamentals of peace, mercy, and unity as it has been prescribed by Islam.
Due to increased number of extremists` attacks, Erdogan encourages people to unite against terrorism and violence so to protect Islam from dishonesty. The author states that there is a need to support citizens` legitimate demand for dignity, justice, and freedom. For politicians, it must be a focus of attention. Erdogan also specifies that unity of Shiites and Sunnis can be protected through the encouragement of people`s diversity. Political leaders should serve as role models that support people`s need, regardless of their religious background. It will reduce people`s hostile attitude towards each other, reminding them that they adhere to the same religion and have the same God (Erdogan). Indeed, although Shiites and Sunnis are two sects of Islam, they should be reminded of their mission and core values.
- Erdogan, Recep. “We Must Follow the Path of Peace and Unity.” Daily Sabah, 2014.
- Perazzo, Bayan. “On Being Shia in Saudi Arabia.” Institute for Gulf Affairs, 2015.