Bahrain Key in Sunni/Shia Divide

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In the fraught divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims of the Arab world, the tiny island state of Bahrain is the next crucible of combat.

Unprecedented pro-democracy protests there by the Shia community have had a longer reach than what would normally be the case in a country of only 738,000 for one simple reason: Bahrain’s close ties to its huge neighbor, Saudi Arabia.

The two countries are linked by a 16-mile, multi-lane causeway and by the shared commitment of their Sunni ruling royal families to remain in power. Oil-rich Riyadh also financially supports petroleum-poor Bahrain.

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Anxiety Over Upcoming Islamo-Probe

 

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2011; 5:31 PM

 

 

In some ways, Zuhdi Jasser doesn’t match the profile of the typical Muslim American. He’s an active Republican who has supported U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, advocates for Israel and says his faith harbors “an insidious supremacism.”

Yet the prominent Scottsdale, Ariz., doctor is the face of American Islam for a Capitol Hill moment. Other than members of Congress, Jasser is the only witness New York Rep. Peter T. King has identified so far forhis upcoming hearings on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims.

King, the Long Island Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, has called the hearings to start March 9. Although he initially spoke out to promote them, his decision in recent weeks to lie low (he declined to comment for this article) and to keep the witness list and precise questions quiet reflects the complexities of debating the problem, experts say.