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Iraqi Undercurrent of Violence

Reader comment on item: [Looting:] An Iraqi Tragedy

Submitted by Elizabeth Coote (United States), Apr 23, 2003 at 03:20

This article, "An Iraqi Tragedy" is very revealing of a trait of which I was unaware--the current and culture of violence which runs beneath the surface of Iraqi life.

This same sub-surface of unrest and possible addiction to violence, most noticeable in the celebrations in Najef and Karbala this week (Apr. 20th/03) amongst the Shiites, may make the establishment of a stable democracy almost impossible.

I did notice how quickly the hordes and throngs began to march on Karbala and An-Najef and I wondered at not only the swiftness of their appearance but, as the week, has gone on, the unceasing dancing and self-flagellation, synchronized and led by drummers and presumably clerics. To some degree it reminded me of an aerobics group. But it goes on day after day and I wondered at what drives these thousands of Muslim men. Perhaps there is no real answer except that the Imams provide an incitement to violence that creates and then fulfills a need or addiction to violence and sensation.

I understand the devotion of the pious of any religion, their daily prayers and rituals whether Hassidim or Catholic nuns, but the Muslim relentless drive, almost 'enslavement' to their religion by the masses, not just the devout few, has always been a mystery and puzzlement to me.

As a Canadian Anglican (Episcopalian in the US) I 'did my duty' and little more religiously; I observed the Saints Days and Feast Days and tithed. But I cannot, for the life of me, imagine not only praying five times a day, but dropping everything at a second's notice to start dancing and shouting in religious fervor throughout my lifetime. What on earth can they be getting out of it?

Perhaps if we understood that aspect of Muslim life better, we might understand better how to bring peace to this region.

I noticed today, April 22nd/03, the difference between the sweating seething masses in Karbala and the calm, smiling faces of the Kurds in the north greeting Gen. Jay Garner. There the women were, in their head scarves, hair and eyes gleaming and faces smiling, the men in possession of themselves. What a difference. I thought when I saw the Kurds, "Now that's what the Iraqis should look like".

Obviously, there is a lot I have to learn but if the West is to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear of humanity in Karbala, I'm going to be astounded.

One of MSNBC's 'embed' reporters, Dr. Bob Arnot, reporting today from Karbala, commented on the seething celebrants without making any judgments, then wrapped up his report with a very telling little vignette: he said that just before he started to report on camera, two Shiite women came up to him and said, "We hate Saddam; we hate the US; we hate everything that isn't Iraqi." It seems that "hate" is a very desirable commodity in that region, one that is not in short supply.
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