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Many Sunnis regard this form of Islam as intolerant and extremist.Sufism in particular represents a strain of Islam, long popular among Sunnis and Shia alike, that shares many practices with mainstream Shia Islam, such as veneration of the prophet’s family and local saints.
Government religious clerics often refer to Shia using derogatory terms such as rafidha or rawafidh, meaning “rejectionists,” and stigmatize their beliefs and practices.
They have also condemned mixing between Sunnis and Shia as well as intermarriage.
One current member of Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Religious Scholars, the country’s highest religious body, responded in a public meeting to a question about Shia Muslims by stating that “they are not In addition to government-affiliated clerics, the state likewise allows other clerics to employ enormous social media followings – some in the millions – and media outlets to stigmatize Shia with impunity.
With democratic elections, Shia parties were able to dominate the new politics.
In Syria, Sunni Muslims are in a large majority, but the country has been ruled for the last 45 years by members of the Alawite sect, a Shia off-shoot.
Saudi state-funded religious scholars, who generally follow the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence, are variously described as “Wahhabi” after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab or “Salafi.” Salafism refers to a movement within Sunni Islam that developed in Arabia in the first half of the 18 century and advocated a return to the traditions of the “devout ancestors” (the salaf).