This past Sunday, there was a bloody terrorist attack on Shi’ite pilgrims. The attacks weren’t unexpected, given that this is an annual holy pilgrimage involving thousands of people. Last year, over a thousand of them died in a panicky stampede after mortars were fired at their mosque, which holds the mausoleum of the revered Imam Musa Kadhim, who was martyred (by other Muslims) about 13 centuries ago.
And the beat goes on.
There were governmental attempts to protect the pilgrims, but many of them took shortcuts to get to mosque, thus placing themselves at risk. It was this group that suffered the most damage.
Iraq the Model says enough is enough: “This Has Got to Be Stopped”:
What happened today [August 20th] in Baghdad was not something unexpected, almost every crowded religious ceremony in Iraq over the past few years was targeted.
In fact, every gathering of crowds of civilians makes a soft target that attracts attacks from one or another type of criminals and everyone here knows this yet no one found the will or determination to stop letting this happen over and over again.
It is true that the constitution of Iraq guarantees the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of practicing religion but when practicing these rights means putting people’s life in danger and worse as it may escalate already exiting tensions then these rights need to be put on the shelf for a while.
Iraq is a country in a state of war with terrorists and extremists and those enemies must not be offered a chance to cause more death, inflict more damage on the society and provoke unfavorable reactions and that’s why I believe it’s the government’s duty to protect lives and avoid offering the terrorists and extremists a free chance to use occasions like today’s to further destabilize Baghdad.
What I’m trying to say is that Iraq is at war and the government has the constitutional cover through the “National Safety Law” to prohibit all sorts of mass gatherings that often end up with tragic loss in civilian lives until the government is sure about its ability to protect such gatherings. Iraq is in an emergency situation therefore the government must not shy from making whatever decisions to protect the people and keep the society form frictions that might result in catastrophic outcomes.
Omar has a point, but it is not one that will be well-received by libertarians, who loudly complain over here about the possible infringement of their civil liberties at the drop of a library card. Here, we are allergic to suggestions of government control of crowds, even if those crowds are being targeted and women and children are being killed.
Several ideas come to mind at this juncture: in the Shi’ite tradition of martyrdom, the idea of dying on a pilgrimage, while it is not something to look forward to, seems to have a sense of inevitability about it. Perhaps it is inherent in Shia Islam, which is founded on martyrdom and being on the losing side.
Second, the passive martyrdom experienced while on a pilgrimage is probably connected to the (also foundational) idea of Jihad. It’s simply less aggressively murderous toward others.
Third, I don’t think the depth of Sunni hatred toward Iraqi Shi’ites has been fully plumbed, at least by non-Muslims. In Iraq, the Sunnis were in charge; they are sore losers — as are the members of all tribal cultures: thin-skinned, envious, and living from an idea of scarcity. For Islam, the notion of “live-and-let-live” is deeply foreign. Islam, especially Iraqi Sunni Islam, is angrily triumphalist. They don’t do “win/win” situations. In fact, they probably can’t comprehend such a situation. It’s “death/destruction and then winner-takes-all.”
The problem is, it will take a long, long time to wipe out the majority of Iraqis. Not that the Sunni elements aren’t giving it the good old college try. And the Shi’ites continue to play into their hands. In a way, what choice do they have? They can let the Sunnis take over and then lose anyway, or they can try to go about their lives — and perhaps survive, Allah willing.
Omar has a good idea, one that would save lives and make Iraq more peaceable. But it just shows how his thinking has evolved into a Western version of ideals, one of which is the preservation of life.
Perhaps he could think of it in Darwinian terms: those Shi’ites who are staying home and avoiding crowds are the smart ones, and it is these who will survive to continue the process Iraq has begun in learning self-governance.
Meanwhile, Omar’s current concerns for his fellow citizens are not a worry here…yet. When the terrorists start striking randomly or the Avian flu finally mutates, then we shall see what we Americans are really made of…
Who knows; we may be — sooner or later — living through the Age of Quaratine. “Civil” liberties may not be possible in a bloody era of mass random violence or wide-spread disease. For adumbrations of this new era, see the latest air terror story: Northwest Jet Turns back; 12 Arrested.