Monday, 6 April 2009

Visualising Shi'isms numbers

Trouble flares in Bahrain as the Shia majority becomes discontented with minority Sunni rule. Writers such as Vali Nasr write about the rise of Shi'ite political power as Sunni states fall out of favour or are forced to become more democratic/representative. But judging the influence of Shi'ism in politics is a notoriously tricky thing to do. Whether that's because quietist Shia ulama discourage political participation, Shi'ites end up being counted amongst non-religious political forces, as was the case in Iraq...

Qasim had no political party of his own and it was the powerful Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) which provided him with a mass political base. Founded in 1934, the party had an impressive record of anti-colonial resistance and commanded widespread respect because of the tenacity with which it had pursued its struggle. In the 1940s and 1950s, its membership and support had expanded dramatically, particularly within the Shi’ite community. The tilt towards the Communist Party by the Shi’ite community has been explained as the response of a politically disenfranchised community from which ‘the poorest of the poor’ were drawn. In the 1960s the drift of Shi’ite youth towards the party was so alarming that the traditional Shi’ite ulama even issued a fatwa against those supporting or joining the party. (source)

Or because people lack the basic mathematics to put their numbers into context. Here is an interesting blog post that tries to visualise Shi'ite influence by population.

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