Spotlight on Shia Community in U.S.

July 7, 2003

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 7, 2003 the Los Angeles Times reported that "with the U.S. war in Iraq and subsequent occupation, the Shia are in the spotlight, often sympathetically portrayed as the courageous victims of Hussein. Suddenly, their holy cities and religious rituals are being covered around the world. Suddenly, they are gaining access to U.S. policymakers... But the spotlight has also magnified the challenges facing the nation's Shias, a polyglot community that may make up more than 20% of the American Muslim population... The nation's oldest Shia community is in the Detroit area, where Lebanese immigrants began settling a century ago... But California is home to the largest and most diverse Shia population, with more than 30 Shia mosques, still largely divided by culture and ethnicity... In West L.A., for instance, the Iranian Muslim Assn. of North America offers Persian lessons and Iranian New Year celebrations, in addition to Islamic religious services... In Pico Rivera, Swahili mingles with English in the Husseini Imam Bara Mosque, which is dominated by East Africans of Indian origin. In Cudahy, Southern California's oldest Shia mosque is populated primarily by Pakistanis, while Bell's mosque is mostly Lebanese."