A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Tense Arba‘in Day in Karbala

Update: As feared, there have been more bombings.

Today is the arba‘in, or end of the 40 days of mourning for Imam Hussein following ‘Ashura, and with hundreds of thousands of Shi‘ite pilgrim faithful flocking to Karbala despite a bombing aimed at pilgrims on Wednesday in the holy city where Hussein is buried.

I even find myself agreeing with Hizbullah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah (with whom I agree on few if any other things) in deploring these sectarian attacks. The term he uses in his remarks, takfiri, means declaring another Muslim an unbeliever, and in this context means those Sunni Islamists who consider Shi‘ites to be heretics or worse.

Clearly sectarianism is still running deep at least between the Shi‘ite controlled Iraqi government and the hard-core Sunni resistance, especially the remnants of Al-Qa‘ida in the Valley of the Two Rivers. Major violence on a Shi‘ite holy day, however, could be a bad augury for the upcoming elections, now just over a month away.

No comments: