Skip to comments.Thousands Of Shiites To Form Human Chain In Najaf Guarding Shrine, Sadr
Posted on 08/13/2004 12:44:29 PM PDT by HAL9000
BAGHDAD, Aug 13 (AFP) - Thousands of Shiite Muslims vowed Friday to flock to the holy city of Najaf to form a human chain around the revered Imam Ali shrine after militia leader Moqtada Sadr was reportedly wounded in battle.
In a peaceful demonstration outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the US embassy and some government offices, the Shiite men, women and children vowed to guard the shrine and shield Sadr in the fighting at Najaf.
"We are a group of 500 women, many of whom are young students, and we plan to go tonight to Najaf and be part of a large human chain that we will form surrounding the shrine and also Sadr," said 20-year-old Rajaa Khayum, a resident of Sadr City, the Shiite stronghold of northeast Baghdad.
Dressed in a traditional abaya, Khayum said hundreds of Sadr supporters would leave in groups Friday evening and participate in the holy war, but in a peaceful way.
"We do not have arms, but our bodies will be armour for the Imam Ali shrine and Sadr. We will take the bullets of the Americans and are ready to die martyrs for our religion and its son, Moqtada."
The gold-domed tomb of Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law Ali held by Sadr's Mehdi Army has for centuries made the city of Najaf a place of pilgrimage for Shiites seeking his blessing.
The religious importance of Najaf to Shiites, who make up the majority in Iraq, was highlighted in early April 2003 when US troops invading Iraq entered the city of half a million.
They were confronted by hundreds of angry civilians who blocked soldiers from approaching the shrine, which is off-limits to non-Muslims.
A spokesman for the Shiite Muslim militia leader urged thousands of partisans in Baghdad to march to Najaf on foot after Friday prayers.
"As we gather here, outside the headquarters of the agent of the occupation who have brought nothing but death and destruction to this country, we order you to march to Najaf on foot," said Sayed Hazem al-Araji.
The besieged holy city lies 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of Baghdad.
Khayum, along with dozens of other women and thousands of men gathered outside the Green Zone, were dancing and shouting slogans in support of Sadr and his militant Mehdi army.
Demanding an immediate stop to the fighting at Najaf, Khayum said the Iraqi and US forces should quickly exit the city.
"The government calls Sadr an outlaw. How can he be?" asked Khayum's friend Aayam Mohammad, who had come to the demonstration despite a shoulder injury, while a young supporter sprinkled rose water on the sweating crowd.
Mohammad was also headed to Najaf later Friday.
"He (Sadr) is son of this land, of this religion. It is (Prime Minister) Iyad Allawi who is the outlaw, an American spy. He and his ministers should quit and also exit Najaf without any more bloodshed."
As the crowd gathered, dozens of American soldiers and Iraqi national guards took positions outside the gates of the convention centre in the Green Zone.
"Go away, go away. Stand far. Don't come close," one gun-toting soldier said.
"We are not here to fight. We are here to give a message to the government and the Americans that they should quit Najaf," said Mortada Mohammed, a 25-year-old student of French literature.
"I challenge the coalition forces. Let them call Sadr an outlaw again and see what happens."
Pro-Sadr demonstrations were held across Iraq, while in the main southern city of Basra, a Sadr aide called on Iraqi police and national guards to join the ranks of the Mehdi army.
"Either you are with us or against us," warned Sheikh Ahmed al-Maliky, the deputy governor of Basra, as more than a thousand faithful gathered for weekly prayers held on the street in the city centre outside Sadr's office.
Thousands of Shiites also marched towards Najaf from Kufa, while demonstrations supporting Sadr were being held in most key cities of Iraq.
You cannot start with a false premise and arrive at a valid conclusion
I'm not even sure what the correct premise would be in this case. I just threw the puppets out as fodder :)
Iraqis are our friends....What a freaken mess.
It would be amusing to correlate the opinions of the current crop of "kill-em-all" posters with the people who supported the non-violent protest of the Serbs, back in the day.
The moral quality of a government is conveniently correlated to its response to non-violent protest. Sure, you can run 'em down with bulldozers or shoot 'em up with rubber bullets, but then what is it that defines your side as the "good guys"?
Thousands Of Shiites To Form Human Chain...
And that, children, is why God made chain guns.
Just what I was thinking. A heavy dose of tear gas would save lives. Hopefully we'll stop the PC nonsense.
The lesson is never have a cease-fire.