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Published in School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution Newsletter Link Many years of authoritarian rule and grievances in Tunisia ignited a popular wave of protests demanding social and political change. These efforts, which later became known as the Arab Spring, quickly spread to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Spring usually renews, rebuilds, and brings a renewed sense of purpose. This was the case in Tunisia and Egypt, where long-time dictators resigned from their posts and the people achieved a sense of reclaiming their democracy. However, not all such actions across the region proved to be joyous as the years progressed. It became clear that even spring could be categorized under discriminatory vocabulary. While the struggle for freedom (or democracy) was internationally proclaimed for nations such as Libya, for others the struggle for freedom was labeled under “terrorism.”

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WASHINGTON,  May 2, 2015 – “Are you Shia?” This is the questions Muslims are forced to answer as they apply for Hajj pilgrimage. Every year, around three million pilgrims visit the city of Mecca. The process of getting a visa is either via  a travel agency or via applications directly from other countries. Due to limited space and lack of Saudi service during that time, Saudi officials have arranged for different countries to limit the number of people they can send to the Hajj pilgrimage. Some countries have created a ministry of Hajj to deal with limitations or discrimination against Shia who are attempting to participate in Hajj.  

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WASHINGTON, January 12, 2015 — The United States has worked to defend people around the world and grant them freedom from discrimination. America’s fight in the Middle East and north Africa was based on the fact that the U.S. does not tolerate dictatorships, and that no one is above repercussions if they target innocent people. The atrocities perpetrated by ISIS have brought many countries such as Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar together to prevent this group from moving to another country and continuing their activities.

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WASHINGTON, November 21, 2014 — “There’s two kinds of people in this world,” says Will Smith in the movie trailer for Focus. “There’s hammers and nails. You decide which one you want to be.” That is an interesting way to categorize humanity, but we could add another kind of person to the list: people who watch the “hammer and nails”. Hammers are those who oppress others to gain and stay in control; nails are the people who are victimized by them, people who often wish only for equality and freedom. Hammers — terrorist groups like ISIS and governments that of Bahrain — pound on on the innocent inhabitants of their states as though they are nails in a workshop.  

January 1st 2014 Broken Promises The situation in Bahrain is a clear example of how human’s blood is viewed less important than oil, power, and political interest. For the last three years, the government of Bahrain has carried out systematic persecution of the Shia community in this country, yet the media outlets and governments are silent. The government views the Shia majority as a threat to the continued power and control held by the Al-Khalifa family.

Speak up

You might ask why “Shia Sentinel?” For many years, I was an injured and heartbroken child who ran away from his motherland, in hopes of starting a new journey. My goal since I got to the United States was to study, create my own company, and earn top money. However, the more I progressed in my education and interacted with people of different worlds, I came to realize that, in fact, I was not the only person who had spent a healthy portion of their life under terror. There were others like me, except, some had never received the chance to escape the violent conditions I too had experienced. I was blessed with opportunity, and they were left to bear the injustice that continued. With the unleashed chaos of the Arab Spring, all that I had created a new life upon was turned upside down. Seeing and hearing what the media showed and what social media depicted enticed flashbacks to my child. All that fear and turmoil I had turned back to was now flashing across my mind. Yet again, I was the heartbroken child awakened by the sound of gunshots below our apartment window. Except this time, what was being said on the news was not what I knew to be true. The violence depicted as consequence of religion was not what I was raised to believe. Lies were being used as shrouds to cover the crimes of leaders, unworthy of their positions. It was a though media was handed a lens which showed only what was politically beneficial. People of minority status were being used as shields for corruption and abuse. Thousands were killed, raped, tortured, and yet, there was no mention of them in the news.    At the time, I was working as a journalist for Freemuslim Association, inc, and with all that I had witness, I took an oath to do whatever I can to protect the most innocent religion in the world. Since I start working for Shia Rights I realized there is a lot to get done. That’s why I decided to dedicate my life toward being a watchdog for all the inhumane action against Shia Muslims. I may not have initially set out to do the job, but deep inside me there is something told me: You can do it; You have to. And so, years later, I have dedicated my life, my “american dream” for the sake of the world's “democratic dream”.