Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Shias in Iraq

As a Shia, one thing I haven't been able to bring myself to write about is the deliberate attacks on Shias in DC. The carnage of civilians in the past few weeks, mostly, Shias, has been horrifying. I vividly remember being skeptical about the possibility of a civil war in Iraq, but I'm not so sure anymore. Not because I think sectarian violence in Iraq was inevitable, but because both the British and American military forces failed to secure the porous borders. The foreign infiltration of fighters from other countries, especially those that believe in the annihilation of Shias, could have been avoided.

My co-worker who works on International Law & Justice is actually working on writing a piece about how Zarqawi's comments that call for the complete destruction of Shias are genocidal in nature, when one compares it to the Genocide Convention. Once that piece is made available, I'll definitely post it.

The lack of coverage the sectarian violence in Iraq has received is indeed troubling. And it is not surprising to see no condemnation from neighboring Arab countries or more a louder voice about this even amongst Muslims in the US. As a co-director of
The Qunoot Foundation, my friend Mohamed wrote a really touching post about Sunni-Shia relations on his blog. It is also definitely refreshing to see a press release by the Muslim Public Affairs Council:


(Washington, DC - 9/27/05) -- The Muslim Public Affairs Council condemns the heinous and seemingly endless barrage of anti-Shi'a attacks taking place in Iraq on a daily basis. In the span of the last three weeks alone, over 1,500 Iraqis have been killed in a series of terrorist attacks that have crept from public spaces into holy sites and mosques.

Yesterday, insurgents dragged five Shi'a Muslim schoolteachers and their driver into a classroom, lined them against a wall and gunned them down. Elsewhere, a suicide attack and roadside bombings killed 10 Iraqis. On Sept. 14, more than a dozen explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital in rapid succession, killing at least 152 people and wounding 542 in a series of attacks that began with a suicide car bombing that targeted laborers assembled to find work for the day. The one-day death toll was believed to be the worst in the capital since major combat ended in May 2003. Also on that day, at least 112 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the heavily Shi'a neighborhood of Qazmiya where day laborers had gathered shortly after dawn. The Qazmiya district also was the site of a bridge stampede involving tens of thousands of Shi'a pilgrims on Aug. 31 that killed 950 people.

Earlier this month, al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, allegedly declared "all-out war" on Shi'as and vowed to kill anyone participating in the Constitutional referendum. Such Muslim-on-Muslim violence is a betrayal of the teachings of the Qur'an, which state, "But whoever deliberately slays another believer, his requital shall be hell, therein to abide; and God will condemn him, and will reject him, and will prepare for him awesome suffering" (4:93). Iraqi politicians, including deputy speaker of the National Assembly Hussain al-Shahristani, as well as Sunni and Shi'a religious religious leaders in Iraq have denounced the attack as "barbaric and gruesome." However, internationally-recognized Muslim leaders and scholars have been startlingly silent. MPAC calls once more upon on all the religious leaders, regardless of their denominational persuasions, to demand that adherents of Islam -- in unambiguous terms -- not commit such a heinous crime in the sight of God.

For their part, the U.S. government has done little other than issue warnings that Sunni Arab insurgents are likely to increase their attacks ahead of the Oct. 15 national referendum. As the occupying force, the U.S . military holds a non-negotiable responsibility to secure the lives of all Iraqi citizens. A failure to do so only further undermines the Administration's claims that this war is being waged in the pursuit of peace, freedom and democracy.

[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443,