Anti-Shiaism is hatred of, prejudice, discrimination, persecution, and violence against Shia because of their religious beliefs, traditions, and cultural heritage. The term was first defined by Shia Rights Watch in 2011, but it has been used in informal research and written in scholarly articles for decades.[1][2]

Imam Ali's Shrine in Najaf, Iraq, is one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.

The dispute over who was the rightful successor to Muhammad resulted in the formation of two main sects, the Sunni, and the Shia. The Sunni, or followers of the way, followed the caliphate and maintained the premise that any member of the Quraysh tribe could potentially become the successor to the Prophet if he was accepted by the majority of Sunni Muslims. The Shia however, maintained the view that only the person who has been selected by God through the Prophet (Hadith of the pond of Khumm) which is also known as Ghadir Khumm could become his successor, thus Ali became the religious authority for the Shia people. Militarily established and holding control over the Umayyad government, many Sunni rulers perceived the Shia as a threat – to both their political and religious authority.[3]

The Sunni rulers under the Umayyads sought to marginalize the Shia minority. Throughout history, the persecution of Shias by their Sunni co-religionists has often been characterized by brutal and genocidal acts; the most recent case of religious persecution by Sunni Muslims involved the genocidal massacre, ethnic cleansing and forced conversion of Shias by ISIL in Syria and Iraq (2014-2017). Comprising around 10% of the entire world's Muslim population, to this day, the Shia remain a marginalized community in many Sunni dominated countries and in those countries, they do not have the right to freely practice their religion or establish themselves as an organized denomination.[4]