Feb 26, 2006

Divide and Conquer

The sectarian fighting between Shia's and Sunnis in Iraq has spiralled unto a whole other bloody level. After last Wednesday's bombing of the al-Askari Shrine, the violence has intensified drastically. I can't help but wonder who the real "behind the scenes" people were. Then again, does it really matter? I don't think I need to get into the "deja vu" factor here. Sectarian fighting within colonized/occupied places is nothing new; and neither is the divide and conquer approach that underlies it.

For those that may not know, the al-Askari mosque is one (if not the most) sacred of places for Shia Muslims. Shia's travel to the city to worship at the sacred tombs of Ali al-Hadi and al-Hasan al-Askari (the 10th and 11th Shia Imams) and the site where the 12th Imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi (also known as the "hidden Imam") disappeared. Shia's pray at this mosque for the return of Imam al-Mahdi.

A day after the incident, I spoke with an Iraqi student of mine, who like me, had immigrated to Canada at a young age. I asked him about his feelings and thoughts on the bombing of the shrine. Even though he did not identify as a practicing Shia Muslim, he was devastated the same. For him, it wasn't so much about the shrine itself as it was about the destruction of his homeland and his people.

It was ironic, 18 years after the Iran and Iraq war, here I was talking to a student ten years younger than me, about the death of thousands and thousands of our people who, as "enemies" were killing one another. He wasn't even born yet during that era of war, but he got to experience the continuation of that hell through another war that immediately followed.

I didn't know what to say to this young man. I was out of words. We both just looked at each other with great saddness because we knew the deal. We knew our people were survivors and fighters, we knew they were resilient and strong, but we also knew the reality of what went on:
our people's lives were worth less than oil, money and power.



Anonymous snd said...

This is very powerful PQ. It is amazing to have discussions and revelations such as these. I believe that this is one of the beauties of Canada. It may be my need to see the 'silver linning' in order to keep my sanity, when I hear or am faced with such stories. But I cannot help but be struck by our priviledge: talking and lamenting the experiences of our people in a safe new 'homeland'.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Even though we are totally privileged to live in Canada we shouldn't lose sight of the shit that goes on here...What's safe for us in the new 'homeland' is not so 'safe' for others of us...anyhow. that's a whole other disucussion. :)
I always find in my diasporic community, when you are critical of Canada, they come at you with the "grateful immigrant" syndrome. I hate it. But I get where that comes from. It's fucked up nevertheless.
ahh, I think I need that 'silver lining' right about now! ;)

4:25 PM  
Anonymous snd said...

You are right... and, you know me...:)

10:35 PM  
Blogger rabfish said...

good point PQ--not safe for all in canada. like the anonymous anti-sharia activist, who left an abusive marriage, and nearly got deported back to iran. (her deportation order has been stayed).

that's a powerful moment with your student.

the identities run deep. the u.s. knows what buttons to push and make war. ugh.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Aaminah said...

I am Sunni and American, and even I cry and get very angry at the destruction of Shi'a shrines. Why? Because it's just plain wrong. It's wrong to destroy, desecrate or disrespect the important symbols, sacred lands, etc. of any spirituality. And I don't look down on Shi'as as my enemy; they are my brothers and sisters no matter what! We should ALL be concerned about these kinds of desecrations, not only if we share a religion or a methodology, or even if we do not share a cultural heritage. As a Native American, I am appalled at the desecrations of various tribal sacred sites too. But what we need is to all get together and support each other, not just the group we personally belong to, because if it's wrong (and it is), then it's wrong no matter who is doing it and no matter who it is done to.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Thank you for the words aaminah. I couldn't agree with you more. Many of my Sunni students don't even know much about Shia's. They often think we don't believe in the same prophet (which totally shocks me everytime). I'm not sure what info they are getting or perhaps not getting. It's sad tho. This beautiful old Muslim Man (who was Sunni) once said to me, "Sister, before Sunnis and Shia's, there were only Muslemeen."

thanks again for sharing.


7:26 PM  

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