Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Holy shrine attacked again, minarets downed in blast; Sadr calls for 3 days of mourning, suspends bloc in parliament; Curfew in Baghdad

Above: The al-Askari mosque before and after the February, 2006 attack. "This is as 9/11 in the United States," said Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite and one of Iraq's two vice presidents after last year's destruction. Built over a thousand years ago, then crowned by a magnificent golden dome, the mosque is one of the most important in the Shia Muslim world, where lay the mausoleums of Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari -- the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams, infallible manifestations of God and perfect interpreters of the Qur'an according to Shia belief. It was also the hiding place of Muhammad al-Mahdi, the twelfth and final Imam, known as the "Hidden Imam", who speaks today through the mujtahids, and who Shias believe will return at the end of time to bring justice to a fallen world.

Blasts Destroy Remnants of Samarra Shiite Shrine

BAGHDAD, June 13 -- Early morning blasts Wednesday destroyed two minarets at the same Shiite shrine in Samarra where an attack last year demolished the mosque's gilded dome and plunged the country into a wave of deadly sectarian violence.

No one was injured in the 9 a.m. explosions at the revered Askariya shrine in Samarra, about 65 miles north of Baghdad. But officials said it was just the sort of event that could spark a spiral of retaliatory attacks and make it harder to reduce the violence that has brought the addition of thousands of extra U.S. troops stationed at high-profile posts on the streets of Baghdad and elsewhere.

The Feb. 22, 2006, attack on the shrine -- historically known as the Golden Mosque because of its brilliant dome -- was a seminal moment in the four-year Iraq war, sparking a vicious cycle of bloodshed that has never fully stopped. In the 16 months since, thousands of Iraqis -- and perhaps tens of thousands -- have been killed in Sunni-Shiite fighting.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

Muqtada al-Sadr calls for three days of mourning

Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for a three-day mourning period to mark the destruction Wednesday of the minarets of the Shiite Askariya shrine in Samarra and criticized the government for not doing enough to protected the site.

In a statement issued in the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad, al-Sadr also called for peaceful demonstrations following the blasts "to show that the only enemy of Iraq is the occupation and that's why everyone must demand its departure or scheduling its presence."

Read the rest at the China Post

Sadr bloc boycotts Iraqi parliament after shrine bombing

BAGHDAD - The political bloc of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr on Wednesday said it has suspended participation in the Iraqi parliament after an attack on a revered Shia shrine in the town of Samarra.

‘The Sadr bloc have announced their suspension from the parliament until the Iraqi government takes strong measures to reconstruct all the Sunni and Shia shrines, especially the Shia shrine in Samarra,’ lawmaker from the 32-member bloc, Saleh Hassan Al Igaili, told AFP.

Reading a statement issued by the bloc, Igaili said the group had also demanded withdrawal of US troops from Samarra and ‘urgently demanded an investigation by the police’ in the bombing of the shrine.

Read the rest at the Khaleej Times

Iraq imposes Baghdad curfew after mosque attack

Fearing renewed bloodshed, Iraq's government imposed an indefinite curfew in Baghdad as Shi'ite and Sunni political and religious leaders called on their followers to remain calm.

A grim mood descended on the capital as people hurried home before the start of the curfew. Police said gunmen set fire to a Sunni mosque in Baghdad's south-western Bayaa district.

Read the rest at the Mail & Guardian

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Perspective: The day civil war erupted in Iraq

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Iraq commemorates bombing of the 'Mosque of the Golden Dome' in Samarra

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Perspective: Salah ad-Din province violent from day 1

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Opinion (Patrick Cockburn): The year of gold and blood