Gulf show of unity after Kuwait attack
LONDON - Reeling from the tragic bombing that killed 27 and wounded 227 Shia worshipers, Shia and Sunni Kuwaitis conducted joint Friday prayers in a unified stand aimed at rejecting sectarian violence and terrorism.
The prayers in Kuwait were led by Sheikh Waleed al-Ali, a Sunni, who gave a sermon calling for national unity and the rejection of extremism in religion. “Extremism has led to this bloodshed,” Ali said, as Sunni and Shia worshippers stood beside each other, each praying according to their own tradition.
“Our message today is that Kuwait is united and nothing will ever succeed to divide us,” Abdullah Nuri, a Shia engineer, told Agence France-Presse. “The highly positive reactions by our Sunni brothers after the blast made us very satisfied.”
“This is proof that Sunnis and Shias are the same and that they (terrorists) will not succeed in dividing this country,” Kuwaiti Shia cleric Abdullah al-Nejada said.
Less than 24 hours after the June 26th attack, billboards sprang up across Kuwait showing an image of a hand wrapped inside the Kuwait flag with the slogan “we stand as one” displayed beneath it.
Kuwaiti celebrities appeared in television announcements speaking about unity, while four of the country’s best-known singers recorded and released a song within hours of the blast praising Kuwait’s history of coexistence. On July 3rd, a week after the attack at the Al Imam Al Sadeq mosque, Sunni and Shia Muslims prayed together in a show of unity.
The show of solidarity was also on display in Bahrain, where joint Sunni-Shia prayers were also held in Manama’s Grand Mosque on July 3rd.
“Bahrainis have today set a model of unity in the face of conspirators against the Arab and Islamic nations,” Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al- Khalifa said in a statement. He said that all mosques are for Allah Almighty, adding, “the extremist, wherever he is in Bahrain, will always find himself isolated.”
Twitter has become a battleground in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), with the hashtag “Before You Blow Yourself Up” going viral in the Gulf region. Gulf-based Twitter users tweeted out Islamic texts condemning the terrorist attacks and forbidding the killing of the innocent. However, ISIS supporters hijacked the “Before You Blow Yourself Up” hashtag with tweets justifying suicide bombings. In another show of solidarity, GCC interior ministers vowed to take a united stand against ISIS.
In an emergency meeting in Kuwait on the same day of the unity prayers, the ministers “underscored the importance of coordination and cooperation in all measures and steps in confronting this serious epidemic … which is a threat to the security and stability of the GCC states”, said a statement issued after the meeting.
Officials also expressed sympathy with Kuwait, which suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history.