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HRW: Saudi Arabia hate speech still targets minorities


The rights group says some state religious scholars and institutions in Saudi Arabia incite hatred and discrimination against religious minorities, including the country’s Shia Muslim minority. The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled They are not our brothers: Hate Speech by Saudi Officials, released on Tuesday, says Saudi Arabia has permitted government-appointed religious scholars to refer to religious minorities in “derogatory terms or demonise them in official documents and religious rulings” that influence government decision-making. Saudi Arabia has relentlessly promoted a reform narrative in recent years, yet it allows government-affiliated clerics and textbooks to openly demonise religious minorities such as Shia. Often referred to Shia as rafidha or rawafidh (rejectionists), the government religious scholars, all of whom are Sunni, also condemned mixing and intermarriage. The report highlights one incident where a member of Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Religious Scholars, the country’s highest religious body, replied in a public meeting to a question about Shia Muslims by saying that “they are not our brothers rather they are brothers of Satan”.

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