Sayed Mohammad Jawad Al-Qazwini was 12 years old when his family fled Iran and settled in Los Angeles. Now 28, he sat with some 70 Shiite Muslims at the Iman Islamic Center on a recent Friday night, preaching about the Mosque of the Trash Picker in Iran, and a Turkish mosque peculiarly named “As if I have eaten.”

Al-Qazwini, a descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, soon veered into a theme he had raised before on his two-week visit to the center: the discrimination and violence that Shiite Muslims have suffered at the hands of Sunni Muslims.

“Some Muslims don’t like other Muslims praying on the rock,” Al-Qazwini said, referring to a biscuit-sized stone or piece of dried mud that Shiites place their foreheads on when prostrating during prayer. Sunnis do not use this stone, and some believe it goes against Islamic tradition, and is even heresy.

“It’s happened to me at least 50 times in Saudi Arabia. They see the rock, they take it away and say that it’s shirk, polytheism,” Al-Qazwini declared, eliciting gasps from his audience.

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