Iraq: Shia-Sunni effort to end tension
Friday 20 May 2005 6:01 PM GMT
A recent spate of killings has stoked sectarian tensions in Iraq
Tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims have dominated sermons in Iraqi mosques, with Sunni leaders saying they would close the places of worship for three days to protest against anti-Sunni assassinations.
And in an outward show of the escalating sectarian tensions, a firefight erupted between rival Shia and Sunni neighbourhoods in Baghdad on Friday after a car bomb killed two Iraqi soldiers in the Shia distrct of Kadhimiya.
Hoping to defuse tensions, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he would mediate between the influential Iraqi Muslim body Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) and the Badr Organisation, the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri).
The influential cleric met Iraq's newly appointed Sunni defence minister, Saadun al-Dulaimi, on Friday.
Sunnis have accused the Badr Organisation of being the militia responsible for the recent killing of several Sunnis, including three imams.
At the same time, leading Shia cleric Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim called for Iraqi leaders to unite against the violence.
"We must preserve unity and fight against any attempts at discord that aim to divide Iraqis," said Hakim, head of the Sciri, one of two dominant political parties in the United Iraqi Alliance that controls the new government.
"I call on all Iraqis not to give in to this. I call on all religious Sunni and Shia clerics to stand against violence aimed at them."
After the car bomb in Kadhimiya, US forces moved into the area backed by gunships that fired several rockets on the Adhamiya Sunni neighbourhood, which lies across the Tigris river.
Iraqi forces came under mortar round fire in the area of the car bomb and AFP correspondents witnessed exchanges of gunfire across the river.
A gunfight between Shia and
Sunni groups erupted in Baghdad
Announcing the mosque closures and plans to hold a meeting of at least 1000 Sunni leaders on Saturday, Shaikh Ahmed Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarrai said in his sermon: "It is a peaceful protest against heinous crimes and it will be repeated if these attacks happen again."
He added: "We must unite to create a leadership for the community."
The AMS also denounced the assassination of Shaikh Muhammad al-Allaq, a representative of Shia religious leader Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani.
Shia worshippers attending Friday prayers across Iraq wiped their feet on US and Israeli flags painted on the ground at the entrance of several mosques.
Shia Muslims demonstrated
against the US in Baghdad
The images were painted in response to a call by al-Sadr protesting against the alleged desecration of the Quran at the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay.
The flags appeared outside mosques in Baghdad, in the holy city of Najaf and in the southern city of Basra.
And about 2000 people, carrying copies of the Quran, marched in protest in Nasiriyah, 375km south of Baghdad.
"Eight wounded people, four civilians and four police and soldiers, have been admitted to hospital," a doctor in Nasiriyah said, after clashes erupted between demonstrators and security forces.
Iraqi PM al-Jaafari is struggling
to restore order in the country
Medical and security sources said that in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit the bodies of five Iraqis had been found - adding to the scores recently found dumped in Baghdad streets.
In a rocket attack on Friday on the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in west Baghdad, five Iraqi detainees were wounded, the US military said.
There were no casualties among US troops at the prison, where US military guards were photographed abusing and sexually humilitating naked Iraqi prisoners.
Aljazeera + Agencies
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This absolutely makes me sick. My ancestors came to America for religious freedom and to escape persecution so this really boils my blood.
What makes it all the worse is the fact that the Sunni minority controlled the Shia majority for half a century.
This doesn't excuse what insurgents are doing. And what really tops it off is in my opinion Sunni insurgents trying to create a civil war in order to force a Sunni controlled revolution.
Al Zarqawi and his base of terrorist are looking to destabilize Iraq only to throw the blame of his actions on coalition forces. I don't agree with the occupation of Iraq but if Al Zarqawi can manage to throw Iraq into chaos further and ignite a civil war so Wahabis can control the Oil in Iraq and also further their war of aggression to stamp out what they consider Muslim infidels, the non-Wahabist, the Shia.
My husband is a Sunni, my daughter is a Sunni, but I as a Christian heretic, a Lutheran must stand by the Shia and say F*CK the Wahabi insurgents. Iraq is Shia majority, though Shia and Sunni should and could live in peace.
Please members excuse my strong emotion, I have watched this for days on Al Jazeera side by side with my husband. He knows how I feel about respecting peoples religious beliefs. Its just too much.