Middle East News
Bahraini Shiites protest Iraq shrine attack a second day (Roundup)
Jun 14, 2007, 21:55 GMT
Manama - More than 6,000 Bahraini Shiites Thursday marched in the second day of protests against the bombing of Iraq's Golden Mosque in Samarra, with top Shiite leaders heading the demonstrations.
The largest of three separate rallies took place in the Shiite village of Al-Duraz, north of Manama, where thousands took part in the march that was lead by the chairman of the Olama Islamic Council (OIC), Bahrain's most influential Shiite group, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qasem.
In an apparent attempt to calm Sunni concerns, Qasem reassured Sunnis that no retaliation would follow the bombings in Samarra, which has been blamed by Iraqi and US officials on the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
'Whether we had swords or even nuclear weapons, we would not use them against our Muslim brothers,' Qasem told the crowds during the night-time rally.
Protestors chanted 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel' during the march.
A separate rally in Nouaim, on the outskirts of Manama, was organized by the Islamic Scholars Hoza (school). The protesters, who included a large number of women, also shouted slogans blaming the US and Takfeereah groups - the name given to factions which paint Muslims who differ with them as infidels.
The Hoza group called on the Irraqi government to punish the groups that carried out the bombings, and said the mosque destruction was an assault on all Muslims.
While the US and Iraq blamed the bombings on al-Qaeda, Qasem charged that the US and western countries were conspiring with Takfeereah groups to bring about sectarian divisions between Muslims.
His remarks reflected an OIC statement issued Wednesday that charged that 'forces hostile to the nation' were striving to create sectarian strife.
The OIC has warned that the attacks were designed to have very serious repercussions in Islamic countries in addition to provoking problems in Iraq itself by subverting the political process, prolonging the US-led occupation and sparking sectarian fighting.
Shiites make up more than 60 per cent of the Gulf island's population and have reacted sharply to regional developments affecting Shiites particularly in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Bahrain's Shiite opposition group Al Wefaq Islamic Society, which has a 17-member bloc in parliament, said that the attacks should raise vigilance about plots that threaten to undermine the unity and cohesion of Muslims at religious and national levels.
The bombings of the revered Al-Askari Shiite mosque in Samarra destroyed two minarets that were left standing after the 2006 bombing of the shrine's golden dome that sparked a wave of sectarian violence that is still washing across Iraq, killing thousands and bringing the country to the brink of civil war.
Two of the 12 revered Shiite imams are buried in the Samarra shrine - Imam Ali Al Hadi, who died in 868 and his son, the 11th imam, Hasan Al Askari, who died in 874.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur