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Thursday, August 13, 2009




The Shia Religion

This is from that New York Times report about the Shia restraint in Iraq quoted by the Economist. It does teach one something about this remarkable religion.

. . .

“Let them kill us,” said Sheik Khudair al-Allawi, the imam of a mosque bombed recently. “It’s a waste of their time. The sectarian card is an old card and no one is going to play it anymore. We know what they want, and we’ll just be patient. But they will all go to hell.”

The patience of the Shiites today is in extraordinary contrast to Iraq’s recent past. With a demographic majority of 60 percent and control of the government, power is theirs for the first time in a thousand years. Going back to sectarian war is, as both Sunni extremists and Shiite victims know, the one way they could lose all that, especially if they were to drag their Sunni Arab neighbors into a messy regional conflict.

It is a far cry from 2006, when a bomb set off at the sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra killed no one, but ignited a fury at the sacrilege that set off two years of sectarian warfare.

This year the equally important shrine of Kadhimiya in Baghdad, the tomb of two revered Shiite imams, was attacked by suicide bombers twice, in January and April. More than a hundred people were killed, but there was no retaliation.

Bombing Shiite mosques has become so common that Sunni extremists have been forced to look elsewhere to provoke outrage — much as they did in 2005, when Shiites similarly showed patience when attacked. They have attacked groups of Shiite refugees waiting for food rations, children gathering for handouts of candy, lines of unemployed men hoping for a day’s work, school buses, religious pilgrimages, weddings, marketplaces and hospitals in Shiite areas and even the funerals of their victims from the day before.

Iraq’s Shiites, counseled by their political and religious leaders and habituated to suffering by centuries as the region’s underclass, have refused to rise to the bait — for now. Instead, they have made a virtue of forbearance and have convinced their followers that they win by not responding with violence. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has brought once violent Shiite militiamen into the fold, while the Shiites’ spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has forbidden any sort of violent reprisals.

. . .

Source: The New York Times

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