After Second Shrine Attack
By Ali al-Fadhily
21 June, 2007
Inter Press Service
BAGHDAD, Jun 20 (IPS)
- The second bombing of the Shiite shrine of al-Askari in Samarra,
Iraq, last week brought reprisal attacks, but it also brought solidarity
against the occupiers.
The golden shrine, located
in downtown Samarra which is 125 km north of Baghdad, was first bombed
on Feb. 22, 2006. The attack, which nearly totally destroyed the main
dome, sparked massive violence. Over 1,300 people were killed in revenge
attacks in the few tumultuous days that followed the bombing, and hundreds
of thousands were displaced.
The belief among Shia Muslims
is that the saviour Mahdi will come back to life from within the shrine,
where two of their holy imams are buried. The Iraqi cities of Najaf,
Kerbala and Baghdad also have Shia shrines with golden domes where Imams,
descendents of the prophet, are buried.
The Jun. 13 bombing that
targetted the shrine's minarets were despite heavy Iraqi security presence
and the U.S. military continuing to impose a curfew on the city of Samarra.
The bombing last year was
widely believed by Shiite to have been carried out by Sunni extremist
groups, like al-Qaeda, who maintain a goal of stoking sectarian strife
However, the repercussions
of the second bombing of the shrine have thus far been limited to a
few attacks on Sunni mosques in Basra and Baghdad.
"We now realise the
plot more than we did before," Mustafa Hussain from the predominately
Shia area of Sadr City in Baghdad told IPS, "I am not sure who
is doing this and I do not have the habit of speculating, but now I,
and most Iraqis, are sure it is just a conspiracy to divide Iraqis into
Shiite and Sunnis. All this was planned and paid for by people outside
our country and community."
After the bombing, the Iraqi
government immediately imposed curfew across Baghdad and several other
Iraqi cities, in addition to dispatching large numbers of Iraqi troops
Nevertheless, many Iraqis
believe the bombing was not carried out by al-Qaeda.
"They are dreaming of
evicting the people of Samarra in order to deepen the wound in the Iraqi
flesh," 35-year-old Yassir al-Samarrai'i, a local television reporter
from Samarra told IPS in Baghdad, "Their problem is that Iraqis
are still reluctant to engage in full scale civil war despite all the
dirty business the occupiers have conducted to ignite it by these shrine
The Mehdi Army militia of
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr guarded the area of Khadamiyah in Baghdad,
which is the site of another shrine. In several instances, Shia militiamen
confronted U.S. military personnel in the area, but there was little
That the Samarra shrine was
bombed yet again displayed the Iraqi government's impotence in defending
important locations. The Iraqi police responsible for shrine security
were detained for questioning in order to ascertain why the bombing
"I am a Shiite, but
I know for sure that Sunnis have the same respect we have for holy shrines
and they would never do anything to humiliate their sacred status,"
29-year-old Ruqaya Salih told IPS in Baghdad, "Americans must know
that there are Iraqis who realise that they are planning to divide the
Al-Sadr, who has a bloc of
30 members of parliament, instructed them to withdraw from the government
in order to protest the bombing last week. The MP's pulled out and announced
they would remain out of the government until it takes "realistic
steps" to rebuild the shrine.
Very little reconstruction
had been carried out since last years bombing of the shrine, a fact
that has angered both the Shia and Sunni communities.
In stark contrast to the
bombing of the shrine last year, IPS found many instances of solidarity
between the two sects.
"They attacked ten mosques
in Basra including the one that has the grave of Talha Bin Obaidillah,
Mohammad's companion," Sheik Abdul-Wahab Hassan in Baghdad told
IPS, "Sunnis will not fall for such acts, knowing the fact that
their Shiite brothers would not commit such crimes except those Shiite
who collaborate with the occupying forces and Iran."
Many residents from Samarra
who IPS spoke with in Baghdad blamed the occupation forces for allowing
the bombing to happen.
"We keep blaming the
occupying forces and their Iraqi allies in the government for all that
because it is their responsibility to provide peace and order,"
a member of municipal council of Samarra, speaking on condition of anonymity,
told IPS, "This cannot go on for long and we can feel Iraqis are
becoming more inclined to violence against U.S. forces each time things
go wrong against sacred places in the country."
Share Your Insights
it! And spread the word!
Here is a unique chance to help this article to be read by thousands
of people more. You just Digg it, and it will appear in the home page
of Digg.com and thousands more will read it. Digg is nothing but an
vote, the article with most votes will go to the top of the page. So,
as you read just give a digg and help thousands more to read this article.