Bahraini Shi'ites protest al-Qaeda
Thousands of Bahraini Shiites organized several marches that lasted well into the night on Wednesday hours after Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for demonstrations over the bombings that destroyed the shrine of Imam Ali al-Mahdi and Hassan al-Askari in Samarra, Iraq.

Thousands took part in the protest that was organized in the capital Manama, but at least three other protests organized in Shiite villages attracted several hundred people.

Protesters blasted the bombing of Samarra’s Golden Mosque, which is dedicated to the imams Ali al-Hadi and his son Hassan al-Askari. The bombings destroyed the famous dome on the mosque, one of the four holiest Shiite sites in Iraq.

The angry protesters shouted slogans against Al-Qaeda and its supporters, accusing them of attempts to fuel sectarian hatred.

Many marched holding pictures showing the damaged dome and placards equating the attacks with the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in Danish press.

In Manama, one protester shouted through a microphone that only those who have no love for the Prophet Mohammed would attack the resting places of his own blood.

The anger of protesters taking part in the spontaneous marches was also evident by top Shiite clerics in Bahrain.

Shiite Olama Islamic Council (OIC) chairman, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qasem, during a ceremony held Wednesday night screamed “Labeek ya Hussan, Labeek Ya Hadi,” which means we will answer your calls Imam Hussan and Imam Hadi, sending the crowds into a frenzy as they shouted it out with him.

Eleven Bahraini Shiite Islamic societies issued a combined statement condemning the bombing and describing it as a cowardly and criminal act carried out by Takfeereah, which are groups that seek to paint Muslims who differ with them as infidels.

Bahrain’s Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), which represents Sunni and Shiite clerics, also condemned the attacks in a separate statement.

Both statements warned that those who carried out the attacks seek to destroy Sunni and Shiite unity.

Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni government, has a large Shiite population that reacts closely with developments affecting Shiites in the region particularly in Iran and Iraq because of the historical links.
Posted by: Dan Darling 2006-02-23