Bus Stop Massacre Kills 20;
Sistani Aide Warns against Violence, Blames Arab T.V.
On Saturday morning, an empty fuel trucker slammed into people waiting at a bus stop in al-Wahada, 22 miles south of Baghad, killing twenty persons and wounding 15.
In his Friday prayers sermon, Shaikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala’i, a key aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, warned against “violence and reprisal killings on both sides,” saying that both Shiites and Sunnis lose from it. Speaking at a Friday prayers sermon in the holy Shiite city of Karbala south of Baghdad, he said, “If the country falls into Civil War, everyone without exception will lose, and there will be no winners.” He affirmed, “Peaceful co-existence between the two branches of Islam will be threatened in a grave manner, and everyone’s life will become an unbearable hell.”
Al-Karbala’i seems to have been warning against a wider Sunni-Shiite struggle that could start from Iraq.
He blamed “Arabic television channels” for “issuing accusations,” saying that they “share with us our Arabness and our Islam, but that do not share with us our anxieties and anguish, but rather want public turmoil to break out.”
He said that if mutual hatred increased every day, at some point Shiite and Sunni government employees would simply not be able to work in the same ministry together, and the same would be true in factories and on farms. Life would become impossible and there would not be room on earth for all the graves that would need to be dug. He said that the ignorant among Sunnis and Shiites should not be allowed to call the shots.
Al-Karbala’i’s ecumenical sermon, in an almost wholly Shiite city, probably reflects the fears of Sistani and other top clerics. It is interesting that the ecumenicism frayed quite a lot when he spoke of “Arabic channels” (presumably Aljazeera, though maybe others). These channels are often based in the largely Sunni Gulf and are perceived by Shiite Iraqis to be biased in favor of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, which the Shiites view as genocidal toward them.