Shi'ite protesters carry posters of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration outside the Saudi embassy in Sanaa October 18, 2014. The cleric was executed Jan. 2. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Attack on Saudi Shiite mosque kills four

DUBAI — Security forces prevented two suicide bombers from entering the mosque, where one blew himself up, killing four. Security forces exchanged fire with the second man and arrested him.

Muslim pilgrims walk to the holy city of Karbala ahead of the Shiite ritual of Arbaeen, in Najaf, Iraq, on Nov. 30, 2015. Arbaeen marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the killing of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein 13 centuries ago. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani 
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ARBAEEN-PILGRIMAGE, originally transmitted on Dec. 3, 2015.

PHOTOS: The Shiite pilgrimage Arbaeen

(RNS) Drawing an estimated 17 million pilgrims, the Shiite ritual known as Arbaeen dwarfs even the hajj. Arbaeen marks the end of the 40-day mourning period after the anniversary of the seventh-century slaying of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, which engendered the Sunni-Shiite schism.

Saudi Shi'ite Muslims flagellate themselves with chains during an Ashura procession in Qatif, east Saudi Arabia, October 24, 2015. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Open sectarianism in Saudi Arabia frightens Shiites

QATIF, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) The fate of Saudi Arabia’s 2 million or so Shiites is closely watched because of the country’s intimate involvement in the region’s sectarian conflict through its rivalry with Iran and the teachings of its influential clergy that Shiism is heretical.

Participating in a procession mourning deaths of Prophet Mohammad’s grandchildren, Shiites torch a market in Sunni-dominated Rawalpindi, a garrison city adjacent to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, on November 15, 2013. Photo by Naveed Ahmad

Sunni-Shiite violence soars in Pakistan

(RNS) Tit-for-tat target killings between Sunnis and Shiites have escalated this past year, with Taliban forces repeatedly targeting Shiite processions and places of worship and Iran-backed Shiite groups retaliating.