Muqtada rejects Calls to Renounce Violence
Reuters is now reporting that Muqtada al-Sadr has rejected an appeal by Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum and other Shiite clerics to renounce violence and tactics like taking over government buildings. Muqtada rejected the appeals.
Reuters also alleges that Muqtada has now moved from his father’s mosque in Kufa to the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf. If so, it is an added complication for the Americans. Ali is the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and the first Shiite Imam or vicar of the Prophet. His shrine is one of the two holiest places in the Shiite world, and any attempt by the US to storm it will threaten to set the South aflame. On the other hand, Jeff Gettleman of the NYT was interviewed on Lehrer this evening; he had been to Kufa, and maintained that Muqtada is still there. The rumor that Muqtada went to Najaf may be a ruse to get the US to attack the shrine of Imam Ali so as to turn the entire Shiite world against America.
Also, Arbain starts Thursday. This commemoration marks the fortieth day after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (10 Muharram), and involves a pilgrimage by hundreds of thousands of pious Shiites to Karbala and Najaf. If the US authorities in Iraq have any sense, they won’t try anything until Arbain is over.