A Sunni Islam group in the UK has been accused of trying to whip up sectarian animosity against Shia Muslims in the wake of tensions over the execution of the respected Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
The organisation, Documenting Oppression Against Muslims (Doam), has posted a series of messages that have been condemned as inflammatory and "unacceptable". Although the organisation was founded to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice, it has been accused of intra-Muslim bigotry following the execution of the cleric by Saudi Arabia last month. The continuing Syrian conflict has further inflamed sectarian sentiment so that the Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam, are now identified en masse with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and Sunnis with the opposition and rebel groups.
The Home Office's Extremism Analysis Unit, which was set up last year to examine extremism in Britain, is understood to have received complaints concerning the UK group. One Facebook posting last month from Doam's account, which has 40,000 "likes", accuses Shias of delighting at the plight of Muslims in the besieged Syrian city of Madaya and uses rawafidah, or "rejectors", a derogatory term used by Sunnis against Shias. The posting states: "Shia rawafidah mocking #Muslims starving in #Madaya #Syria." Another posting says: "Of course we are anti-Shia. How one [sic] earth can Sunnis unite people who curse the Sahabah [companions of the prophet Muhammad]?"