Wednesday, February 22, 2006

al-Askari dome destroyed - al-Sistani asks for calm

The dome of the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra, Iraq, was destroyed by a bomb explosion this morning. The attack was almost surely carried out by Sunni militants intent on starting up a long feared civil war in Iraq. However, the Shia's most influential holy man, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is urging calm among the Shia, as well as a 5 day period of mourning.

The al-Askari dome before the bombing.
The al-Askari Mosque holds the remains of the 11th and 12th Imams, Imam Ali al-Hadi, died in 868 AD and his son, Hassan al-Askari, died in 874 AD. Both Imams are revered by Shia as having been direct descendants of Muhammed.

The destroyed al-Askari dome.

There have been some disturbances with crowds of angry Shia attacking and destroying some 5 Sunni mosques in Baghdad.

Iraq the Model says that he believes foreign terrorists are behind the bombing because the shrine has existed in Sunni controlled Samarra for a thousand years without major trouble (the dome of the shrine was completed in 1905). Iraq the Model also says that the Sunni in Samarra have always taken advantage of the income from the great number of Shia pilgrims who visit the shrine. Economic interests would seem to preclude local Sunni involvement in the bombing.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani
The Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a fatwa prohibiting violence by Shia against Sunni and Sunni holy sites The Iraqi government has agreed to a 3 day mourning preiod.

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