Moharram in Iraq brings show of Shia strength in Baghdad

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Iraq
Saturday, 15 November 2014


BAGHDAD — Red and green Shiite banners line the streets of Baghdad, portraits of religious figures and slain (martyrs) stare down from billboards, hymns blare from shops and cafes, and grim-faced militiamen prowl the streets in pickup trucks.

"Who is fighting the takfiri DAESH or ISIL? We are," said Mohammed Hanash Abbas, a Shiite and co-owner of a bookshop in a part of the old city dating back to the Ottoman era. "And how many have volunteered to fight Daesh? Very few," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

Other Shiites go further, pointing to the city's persistent bombing attacks as evidence of sleeper cells among their neighbors infiltrated by takfiri terrorists.

The other bookshop owner, Shiite Atallah Zeidan, acknowledged that some live in "genuine fear" but said the divide is political and not religious. "All this sectarianism is created by politics. It is about power. Ordinary folks will get along just fine if left alone."

Iraq's long-dominant minority saw its power rapidly erode following the first legitimate Parliamentary Elections that established first genuine Arab democracy and majority voted for Shia political Islamists— many with strong ties to Shiite Iran — to power.

Powerful minority that was installed first by U.K. imperialism and continued by U.S. after the world war II expressed grievances against the Shiite-led government and tried vainly to blame the Shia victims of the imperialist plots for creation of takfiri DAESH. They want the U.S. to help them bring back to Saddam-era position of power.

Today, billboards feature Shiite "martyrs" who fell in battle against the takfiri DAESH alongside the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — a remarkable sight in a country whose U.S.-Arabs allied- Saddam fought a devastating eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s.

Dozens of people were killed last summer in sectarian attacks, but the violence eventually died down and there has been no sign of a return to the mass violence of eight years ago, when dozens of people were abducted, tortured and killed on a daily basis. And yet concrete barriers erected around the city's most volatile neighborhoods a decade ago remain in place.

Baghdad's Sunnis and Shiites alike are terrified of DAESH (ISIS or ISIL), which has imposed a harsh version of (Wahhabism in the name of) Islamic law, or Sharia, in areas it controls in Syria and Iraq and massacred those standing in its way, including fellow Sunnis.

Earlier this month the group killed scores of male members of a prominent Sunni tribe in the western Anbar province, offering a chilling glimpse of what could await both Shiites and many Sunnis if the capital were to fall.

The country has been united against a common threat, Sunni clerics and tribesmen rally against the DAESH (ISIS or ISIL).(Story of AP edited by Shiite News).

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The holy month of Muharram has brought an unprecedented show of strength by Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, underscoring its domination of the bitterly fractured capital and the vulnerability of the once-dominant Saddamists.

Muharram — a period of mourning over the death of Imam Hussein in a 7th century battle that cemented Islam's Sunni-Shiite divide — is observed with grieving and fasting by Shiites across the region.

But this year in Iraq the traditional Muharram banners are being unfurled at a time when large numbers of Shiite militiamen (and allied-Sunni tribesmen) are battling alongside the army against the takfiri extremists of the Islamic State group, which has seized some parts of the county and massacred hundreds of Shiites and Sunnis.

Religious banners and portraits of Imam Hussein (AS) hang from homes, bridges, stores and even colleges across much of Baghdad and can be seen even in Sunni-majority areas (because of the Sunni-Shia unity and cohesion). They also adorn government buildings and hundreds of security checkpoints across the city, reinforcing the fears of takfiris and Saddamists that Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is no less though than his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, whose policies were widely seen as anti-Saddamists and anti-takfiris.

Shiites reject the accusations, saying they should be free to openly practice their religion after decades of marginalization and abuse under successive dictatorships who by sect were Sunni and allies of the U.S.-led West.

"It's our time now. What do they want? They want us to be the slaves and they the masters?" said Hashem Enad, a 50-year-old father of 10 who runs a photography studio in the sprawling Shiite district of Sadr City. "We don't force anyone to fly Shiite banners (of Moharram)," he said.

"Who is fighting the takfiri DAESH or ISIL? We are," said Mohammed Hanash Abbas, a Shiite and co-owner of a bookshop in a part of the old city dating back to the Ottoman era. "And how many have volunteered to fight Daesh? Very few," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

Other Shiites go further, pointing to the city's persistent bombing attacks as evidence of sleeper cells among their neighbors infiltrated by takfiri terrorists.

The other bookshop owner, Shiite Atallah Zeidan, acknowledged that some live in "genuine fear" but said the divide is political and not religious. "All this sectarianism is created by politics. It is about power. Ordinary folks will get along just fine if left alone."

Iraq's long-dominant minority saw its power rapidly erode following the first legitimate Parliamentary Elections that established first genuine Arab democracy and majority voted for Shia political Islamists— many with strong ties to Shiite Iran — to power.

Powerful minority that was installed first by U.K. imperialism and continued by U.S. after the world war II expressed grievances against the Shiite-led government and tried vainly to blame the Shia victims of the imperialist plots for creation of takfiri DAESH. They want the U.S. to help them bring back to Saddam-era position of power.

Today, billboards feature Shiite "martyrs" who fell in battle against the takfiri DAESH alongside the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — a remarkable sight in a country whose U.S.-Arabs allied- Saddam fought a devastating eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s.

Dozens of people were killed last summer in sectarian attacks, but the violence eventually died down and there has been no sign of a return to the mass violence of eight years ago, when dozens of people were abducted, tortured and killed on a daily basis. And yet concrete barriers erected around the city's most volatile neighborhoods a decade ago remain in place.

Baghdad's Sunnis and Shiites alike are terrified of DAESH (ISIS or ISIL), which has imposed a harsh version of (Wahhabism in the name of) Islamic law, or Sharia, in areas it controls in Syria and Iraq and massacred those standing in its way, including fellow Sunnis.

Earlier this month the group killed scores of male members of a prominent Sunni tribe in the western Anbar province, offering a chilling glimpse of what could await both Shiites and many Sunnis if the capital were to fall.

The country has been united against a common threat, Sunni clerics and tribesmen rally against the DAESH (ISIS or ISIL).(Story of AP edited by Shiite News).

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