[Marxism] Iraq Sunnis in Baghdad host Sadr followers in show of support

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat May 8 19:25:51 MDT 2004




Al-Jazeera

 <http://www.aljazeerah.info/> http://www.aljazeerah.info/

Iraq Sunnis Host Sadr Followers in Show of Support

Fri May 7, 2004 09:54 AM ET

By Joseph Logan BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of supporters of the Shi'i
Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr prayed in Sunni mosques in Iraq Friday, in
what local leaders called a show of religious unity in the face of
Iraq's
occupiers. 

The gesture was the latest display of solidarity among Iraq's Muslims
since
U.S. forces besieged the Sunni town of Falluja west of Baghdad and faced
off
with Sadr's Mahdi Army in the Shi'i holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala to
the
south. 

Sadr's popularity among Shi'is, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's
25
million people, seems to have soared since his uprising began a month
ago,
particularly among the young and the poor.

Busloads of Sadr's followers carrying portraits of the young cleric and
wearing the insignia of his Mehdi Army trooped to the staunchly Sunni
Baghdad neighborhood of Aadhamiya to pray in the Abu Hanifa mosque,
named
for a pre-eminent scholar and thinker of Sunni Islam.

"Yes, yes to Moqtada!" chanted Sadr's followers who jammed the mosque,
outside of which others set up checkpoints to direct traffic and frisked
worshippers as they entered from streets where posters bearing Sadr's
face
dotted many buildings.

Ahmad Hassan Taha, a Sunni cleric who led prayers at the mosque, said
the
presence of Sadr's followers was a message to U.S. forces who are massed
around the Shi'i holy city of Najaf in a bid to crush his insurgency.

"They have tried to sow discord among us, as Sunnis and Shi'is, and they
have failed," he said, referring to the U.S. occupiers. His words were
echoed by Sadr aide Sheikh Abdel Hadi al-Darraji, who told worshippers:
"After finishing in Falluja, they have turned to Najaf."

Several hundred Sadr supporters also prayed in Falluja, the stronghold
that
U.S. Marines surrounded and bombed last month killing more than 600
people
of its residents, after four U.S. contractors were killed and their
bodies
mutilated in the city.

The siege of Falluja prompted donations of blood and food from Iraqi
Shi'is,
underlining the growing resentment of the U.S. presence in Iraq.
Mainstream
Shi'i leaders, like Al-Sistani and Al-Hakim have largely avoided
confrontation with the U.S.-led occupation authorities.

Rows of Shi'i worshippers laid the small stones on which they place
their
heads during prayer -- in contrast to the rites of Sunnis -- across the
carpeted halls of Abu Hanifa, often breaking into chants of Sadr's name
that
drew rebukes from the mosque's Sunni sheikh.

"Remember that this place has its own sanctity," said Taha, as an aide
gestured at the Shi'i visitors to be quiet. "In this mosque the only
name
mentioned is God's," he said. (Additional reporting by Yasser Faysal in
Falluja) 

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