Iraq: February 19, 2005


Today is the holiest day in Shia Islam, and as millions of Iraqi Shias turned out to pray and profess their faith, Sunni Arab suicide bombers attacked the Shia faithful, killing 55 and wounding hundreds. Celebrating Shia holy days had been forbidden under Saddam, and considered an affront to devout Sunni Moslems. Saddam became more serious about his Sunni Moslem faith in the 1990s. Even before al Qaeda came along, there were many devout Sunni Arabs in Iraq, and many more in Saudi Arabia, who considered the Shia Moslems to be heretics and an insult to Islam. Keep in mind that the origins of Shia Islam are traced back to a 7th century battle near modern day Karbala, Iraq.  The battle was to decide a dispute over the future of Islam. The Shia champion lost, but his followers did not disappear. The Shia Moslems still believe they were right, and the 90 percent of Moslems who are Sunni, are wrong. Sunni Moslems consider the Shia poor losers, misguided and, in many cases, "bad Moslems." Al Qaeda, a Sunni Moslem organization, has often played down these differences, mainly in deference to Iran, an overwhelmingly Shia country that is also the world's only Islamic Republic. But the prospect of Iraq, where 60 percent of the population is Shia, being run by Shia, is too much for al Qaeda to accept. The Islamic (and eventually non-Islamic) world must be run by Sunni Moslems.


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