Iraqi imams blame U.S. for sectarian strife

Clerics calling for unity among Muslims
As the last U.S. troops in President Bush’s military buildup were deployed in Iraq in mid-June, a number of Shi‘ite and Sunni clerics called for unity among Muslims, with some imams using their sermons to blame the U.S. military presence for sectarian tensions.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived in Baghdad on June 15, the latest in a series of American military and political officials to visit the Iraqi capital in order to urge the country’s leaders to enact political reforms, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Gates arrived late that Friday in Baghdad, which was “strangely hushed” because of a curfew in place after the bombing June 13 of the Shi‘ite Golden Mosque shrine in Samarra. The first and most devastating bombing occurred at that shrine in February 2006—an event that observers have generally marked as the start of Sunni-Shi‘ite revenge killings.


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