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  Updated: November 10, 2009

Saudi authorities continue closing Shia mosques

By: Abdulali

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: After Saudi authorities sealed shut two more mosques in the Kingdom's oil-rich Mominin-dominated Eastern region, the number of Shia mosques closed in the country has reached nine.

Rasid News reported that security forces closed the only Ismaili mosque in Ras Tanura and have been preventing Shia citizens from performing daily prayers since last Friday.

The Shia mosque of Abqaiq was closed on the same day and some online sources reported the closure of another Shia mosque in Jubail.

Last month, the authorities also ordered all Shia mosques to be closed in the cities of Khobar, Dammam and Khafji and issued orders banning Shias from building mosques outside Najran and religious centres (husseiniyaat) and cemeteries outside Qatif and Al-Hassa.

Shia Muslims have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens in the Kingdom.

The Saudi government has been closing Shia mosques using various excuses, and has refused to issue building permits for the erection of new places of worship.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a recent report strongly condemned Saudi Arabia over its” systemic state discrimination" against Shia Muslims across the Kingdom, saying that the unfavourable treatment of Shia Muslims "extends from education and employment to the justice system." 

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