ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, March 20, 2006

No Progress Here...

Each year, this religious celebration freaks me out, but hey... I'm just not into the cutting-your-head-with-a-dagger thing. I know, I know... very ethnocentric of me, but I've just never been into self-mutilation. Anyway, the interesting thing about this story is towards the very bottom:

Security Tight As Shiites Gather at Shrine
By QASSID JABAR, Associated Press WriterMon Mar 20, 4:18 PM ET

Millions of Shiite pilgrims, some of them flogging themselves with chains, surrounded a shrine in the holy city of Karbala on Monday to commemorate the 40th and final day of symbolic mourning for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

Tight security appeared to be holding sectarian violence at bay in the city, though five pilgrims making their way to Karbala were attacked in a drive-by shooting in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad. All survived, police said. In Karbala, the day passed without major reported violence.

On Sunday, insurgents fired a mortar round into a parking lot near the shrine 50 miles south of Baghdad, but no one was hurt.

"We are not deterred by the attacks by terrorists and extremists, who want to prevent us from doing our rituals," said Mohamed al-Khazali, a 58-year-old Shiite pilgrim from Najaf.

Some 4 million pilgrims had arrived at the city, said Karbala Governor Akeel al-Khuzai, who expected more to pour in through Tuesday. Many performed rituals of self-flagellation with chains and hit themselves with machetes to display grief over Imam Hussein's death.

Some Sunni Muslims were among those gathered.

"Imam Hussein is a symbol for all Muslims, not just for Shiites," said Amer al-Nuami, 55.

The commemoration has been marked by deadly insurgent attacks in the past. In 2004, coordinated blasts involving suicide bombers, mortars and planted explosives hit Shiite shrines in Karbala and in Baghdad, killing at least 181 people.

An increased number of Iraqi soldiers and police officers patrolled the streets and manned several checkpoints Monday.
Baghdad International Airport also was ordered closed through Tuesday "to avoid any violence during the (religious) commemoration," Transportation Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abdul-Wahab said.

The airport has been closed in the past for security reasons, including during elections.

So, two years ago, 181 people were killed by "insurgents" (aka terrorists). No numbers were provided for 2005 (presumably because the numbers weren't as dramatic). This year, no deaths - just a drive-by that probably involved the Crips. And for some reason, despite Murtha's protestations to the contrary, Iraqi soldiers and police officers are patrolling the streets and manning checkpoints. I thought I heard yesterday that these guys didn't exist?!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler