Friday, September 29, 2006

Tell me again why we're here?

We all know I'm a little slow and often need help. This is one of those moments. I just read this piece in the Washington Post by Sudarsan Raghavan: At Checkpoints in Baghdad, Disguise Is a Lifesaving Ritual.

Let me get this straight. Sunnis have to pretend they're Shiites and Shiites need to pretend they're Sunnis... there's even a website offering a 12-point plan for Sunnis to disguise themselves as Shiites?

From the article:
For centuries, from the Ottoman Empire to the British-installed monarchy to the republic eventually ruled by Saddam Hussein, Sunnis were the elite who got the bulk of government jobs. Shiites, in Hussein's time, were badly persecuted.

Yet in daily life hardly anyone cared about telling Sunnis and Shiites apart. It was considered rude to ask a person's sect, and it is practically impossible to discern from their looks, speech or dress. For generations, the two sects intermarried, making it difficult to differentiate them by surnames. They attended the same schools and lived in mixed neighborhoods.

Now, in the fourth year after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Hussein, a struggle for power is unfolding between Sunnis and Shiites in the political arena and in the streets of Baghdad. Since the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra in February, sectarian strife and lawlessness have escalated.
So, again I'm slow. Please remind me again why we're here.

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