Friday, August 20, 2004

Imam Ali Mosque

Should the violence in Najaf come to the worst, and should there be damage to the mosque -- may the gods prevent it -- we will hear the howl of rage from the anti-war forces about desecration of holy places. I wonder how many of them also decried violation of the sacred place the last time it took place

In 1991, Saddam damaged the Imam Ali Mosque because most of the people who rebelled and were part of the uprising against Saddam Hussain's government, were hiding in that mosque and they were taking it as a place of leadership. And so the Republican Guards fought the people, damaged that mosque and killed all the people who were inside. General Wafiq Al Samarae [the former director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service] admitted in his book (Eastern Gate Ruins) that Saddam's regime used chemical weapons against Iraqi people in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to crush the popular uprising of March 1991 which followed the defeat of Saddam in invading Kuwait. ... Since 1991 security forces had been encamped in the shrine to Imam Ali in Najaf, one of Shi’a Islam's holiest sites, and at the city’s Shi’a theological schools. The shrine was closed for "repairs" for approximately 2 years after the 1991 uprising.

Kudos to anyone who can find any mention of this in the backgrounder grafs of any of the current big media reports about Najaf. This thumb-sucker, for instance, has nary a mention of it.