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Shiʿi Identity Politics in Saudi Arabia

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Chapter Summary

The political attitude of Saudi Shi?is has shifted radically from the time of the conquest of Qatif and Hasa by the Al-Sa?ud in 1913 to the present day. Like many other minorities in the Middle East, they have chosen 'voice' over 'exit' and silence, but not over 'loyalty'. This is probably what makes the specificity of the Saudi Shi?i case as compared with others: they have raised their voices in order to affirm their difference, but at the same time their most visible leaders, namely Hasan al-Saffar and his aids, have chosen to pledge allegiance to the regime. This is despite the fact that, when the Reform Movement engaged in the re-manufacturing of Saudi Shi?i identity in cultural and nativist terms, it gave the Shi?is all the symbolic material necessary to frame their demands in nationalist language.

Keywords:Iran; Qatif; Reform Movement; Saudi Arabia; Shi?i



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