Friday, February 24, 2006

Iraqi Religious Leaders Rally for Unity

Yahoo news/By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer - quote -
Iraq's most influential Shiite political leader called Friday for Sunni-Shiite unity as religious figures sought to calm passions and pull the nation from the brink of civil war after the bombing of a Shiite shrine two days ago and a wave of deadly reprisal attacks.

An extraordinary daytime curfew in Baghdad and three nearby provinces appeared to have blunted the wave of attacks on Sunni mosques that followed Wednesday's bombing which destroyed the golden dome of the Shiite Askariya shrine in Samarra.

Still, Iraqis feared that the two days of violence which followed the Samarra attack had pushed the country closer to sectarian civil war than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion nearly three years ago.

Several joint Sunni-Shiite prayer services were announced for Friday, including one at the Askariya shrine. But security forces turned away about 700 people, virtually all of them Sunnis, who showed up for the service.
"We all have to unite in order to eliminate them," al-Hakim said in a statement. "This is what al-Zarqawi is working for, that is, to ignite a sectarian strife in the country," he added. "We call for self-restraint and not to be dragged by the plots of the enemy of Iraq."

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad acknowledged the danger facing Iraq - and the U.S. strategy for disengaging from this country. But he also said this was also a "moment of opportunity" for Iraq.

"This tragedy can be used to bring people together," Khalilzad told reporters.
He said several steps were being considered by the Shiite-dominated government, including an investigation to establish responsibility for the shrine attack and better protection for religious sites.

He also said a fund to rebuild the Askariya shrine and repair Sunni mosques damaged in the backlash was under study, as well as a ban on carrying weapons without authorization and the appointment of an advisory political committee to help calm tensions.

Anger, however, was running deep and it could take time to determine whether the country has passed through this latest crisis.
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prying1 sez: The people of Iraq could use the bombing of the Askariya shrine to build relationships between the different denominations of Islam thereby fouling the plots of the terrorists that destroyed it. The different factions can and should work together, side by side, to rebuild that which has been destroyed. Lets pray that they see and grasp the opportunity this really affords them.

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