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The Guardian

Syria is not alone in its
descent into sectarianism

Through the cataclysmic violence taking place in Syria, where the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad stands accused of using chemical weapons against his own people in addition to tanks and aircraft, the age-old split between Sunnis and Shia is surfacing at a terrible human cost. As the country's death toll reaches 100,000, what began as anti-government protests inspired by events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya has morphed into the sectarian feud that stretches back to Islam's origins, to an obscure dispute about the prophet Muhammad's legacy and the role of his successors. In the latest round of massacres in Syria, at least 30 Shia Muslims were killed in the village of Hatlah in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. Sunni oppositionists stormed the village and posted a video of themselves setting fire to homes and shouting slogans calling the Shias dogs, apostates and infidels.

 

In Syria a regime dominated by the Shia-Alawite sect forms a crucial link between its leading sponsor Iran, where Shiism is the state religion, Shia-dominated Iraq, where, as in Iran Sunni minorities face exclusion and persecution, and President Assad's Lebanese allies, the militant Shia Hezbollah movement which the US has designated a terrorist organisation. But the feud resonates far beyond Syria or Islam's Middle Eastern heartlands.

 

(The Guardian/Malise Ruthven)

 

Continue reading at The Guardian.

Sunni oppositionists stormed the village and posted a video of themselves setting fire to homes and shouting slogans calling the Shias dogs, apostates and infidels.