Friday, February 24, 2006

Sectarian violence engulfs Iraq following mosque bombing

“Riverbend”, a young Sunni secular woman in Baghdad, wrote yesterday: Tensions...

Things are not good in Baghdad.

There was an explosion this morning in a mosque in Samarra, a largely Sunni town. While the mosque is sacred to both Sunnis and Shia, it is considered one of the most important Shia visiting places in Iraq. Samarra is considered a sacred city by many Muslims and historians because it was made the capital of the Abassid Empire, after Baghdad, by the Abassid Caliph Al-Mu’tasim.

The name “Samarra” is actually derived from the phrase in Arabic “Sarre men ra’a” which translates to “A joy for all who see”. This is what the city was named by Al-Mu’tasim when he laid the plans for a city that was to compete with the greatest cities of the time- it was to be a joy for all who saw it. It remained the capital of the Abassid Empire for nearly sixty years and even after the capital was Baghdad once again, Samarra flourished under the care of various Caliphs.

The mosque damaged with explosives today is the “Askari Mosque” which is important because it is believed to be the burial place of two of the 12 Shia Imams- Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari (father and son) who lived and died in Samarra. The site of the mosque is believed to be where Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari lived and were buried. Many Shia believe Al-Mahdi ‘al muntadhar’ will also be resurrected or will reappear from this mosque.

I remember visiting the mosque several years ago- before the war. We visited Samarra to have a look at the famous “Malwiya” tower and someone suggested we also visit the Askari mosque. I was reluctant as I wasn’t dressed properly at the time- jeans and a t-shirt are not considered mosque garb. We stopped by a small shop in the city and purchased a few inexpensive black abbayas for us women and drove to the mosque.

We got there just as the sun was setting and I remember pausing outside the mosque to admire the golden dome and the intricate minarets. It was shimmering in the sunset and there seemed to be a million colors- orange, gold, white- it was almost glowing. The view was incredible and the environment was so peaceful and calm. There was none of the bustle and noise usually surrounding religious sites- we had come at a perfect time. The inside of the mosque didn’t disappoint either- elaborate Arabic script and more gold and this feeling of utter peace… I’m grateful we decided to visit it.

We woke up this morning to news that men wearing Iraqi security uniforms walked in and detonated explosives, damaging the mosque almost beyond repair. It’s heart-breaking and terrifying. There has been gunfire all over Baghdad since morning. The streets near our neighborhood were eerily empty and calm but there was a tension that had us all sitting on edge. We heard about problems in areas like Baladiyat where there was some rioting and vandalism, etc. and several mosques in Baghdad were attacked. I think what has everyone most disturbed is the fact that the reaction was so swift, like it was just waiting to happen.

All morning we’ve been hearing/watching both Shia and Sunni religious figures speak out against the explosions and emphasise that this is what is wanted by the enemies of Iraq- this is what they would like to achieve- divide and conquer. Extreme Shia are blaming extreme Sunnis and Iraq seems to be falling apart at the seams under foreign occupiers and local fanatics.

No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan…

Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.

People are scared and watchful. We can only pray.


See: Baghdad Burning

RENEGADE EYE

14 comments:

beatroot said...

Nice post...but...

I wonder how bad things will have to get before those who were pro-war finally out their hands up and say: OK, it's a fair cop - this whole thing was all a predictable disaster, of the West's making, and all leaders of nation's involved (US/UK/Poland...)will now go out into the bright winter sunshine, put a gun to their temples and blow their fucking brains out...?

sonia said...

Pro-war?

Ah, you mean Saddam Hussein?

I agree it would be nice if he blew his brains out, but I think he will be hanged first....

Of the West's making?

Very comforting, but just flat wrong. Read this.

Reidski said...

Thanks for that one, Ren.

What it really needs is for the West to go storming in and bring peace to the country ... oh, wait, they already tried that and look what happened ....

beatroot said...

Sonia – good blog!

But the fundamental crime of the invasion of Iraq is that it violates the principle of national self-determination. I was brought up a socialist by my dad, and I learnt all the Marxist stuff when I was at college. And rule one of the socialist movement is that you cannot create democracy by invasion, or from above. It has to come from active political groups within society itself.

I don't really know what it means to be left wing today, but I stick by the principle.

roman said...

Great post, Ren.
Very revealing.
I can almost sense the fear and apprehension in the author's take on what is taking place around her. The fear is palpable.

Unsane said...

But as Nietzsche stated, if you want to make an idol stronger, throw it into mud. If you want to kill an idol, put it on ice.

sonia said...

Beatroot,

Your blog is good too!

And rule one of the socialist movement is that you cannot create democracy by invasion

So I guess Trotsky wasn't a socialist when his Red Army invaded Poland in 1920, and the North Vietnamese weren't socialist when they invaded South Vietnam in 1975 and Cambodia in 1978 (that last invasion, btw, was entirely justified in my opinion)...

But most importantly, while it's very nice of socialists to claim that they shouldn't invade other countries, George W. Bush never pretended to be a socialist. He is supposed to be a war-mongering fascist asshole, remember, so apparently he had to invade Iraq to satisfy his critics...

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

This is what warmongering gets you.

Innocent people have topay the price for our blunders.

Reidski said...

Beatroot, what you say is spot on - and you will soon realise that what sonia says in responses bears no resemblence to anything that people actually said or meant!

And you will also realise that Renegade, unlike me, is a nice guy who tolerates views of those such as sonia! At least he continues to post on issues which winds up the right wing fascists in this world!

beatroot said...

ren. I could'nt tell you what they were in Korea and Vietnam - more like Moaists, possibly - but the failure to import socialism into Poland in 1920 is proof of my point.

But it's more a matter of empirical fact. Where has democracy been dropped into a country from 30,000 feet on the end of a bomb? Free societies cannot be created from above or from without. Where are the examples of the opposite?

beatroot said...

Sorry I just noticed that I was answering a point to Sonia, not Ren..

Amd Bush and his boys and girl are not fascists, but they are very, very confused.

Renegade Eye said...

I supported the Vietnames when they overthrew the rightist, genocidal, Khmer Rouge. It's not wideely known the Khmer Rouge landed the first blow. History doesn't care who started what at a certain point. I was against the Soviets withdrawing from Afghanistan. I supported the Cubans fighting South Africa in Mozambique.

I have not come across anyone in decades who thinks of North and South Vietnam as two countries.

I'm planning a post on the subject of national liberation, or as Marxists say "the national question." Is nationalism ever progressive? Are nationalist leaders reactionary? I'll get heat from both left and right. I'm not claiming answers, but I will start a discussion.

Renegade Eye said...

I just came home from work. I need spellcheck. I mean Vietnamese not Vietnames.

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