Tuesday, August 10, 2004

American Humvees are patrolling Najaf’s streets and announcing through loudspeakers that civilians should evacuate Najaf city as soon as possible. This has coincided with the departure of all the 4 most important clerics from Najaf today “ Grand Ayetullah” (The last one left today). Also a curfew was announced yesterday in Sadr city from 4 p.m. till 8 a.m. and will continue for an undeclared time.

It seems that it’s time at last! I hope they get Muqtada this time and also all his deputies. People here are not only disgusted and upset with this gang but also most of them showed extreme anger and some of them went as far as condemning Islam and even the Mahdi himself!! I don’t agree of course with that, as Muqtada has nothing to do with Islam.

A She’at taxi driver told me, “ Why are we doing this!? Why among all religions we commit such horrible crimes?? If this is Islam then s**t on it and on Mahdi himself, we don’t want this! They went as far as attacking peaceful churches and I really don’t understand why! This is not the Islam we were raised to believe in, the Islam of peace and tolerance. I wish I could see this idiot dead.”

One of my colleagues; a She’at who used to sympathize greatly with Islamist whether She’at or Sunni, told me today that he is shocked with what the Mahdi army is doing, “ When he revolted the 1st time and they called him an outlaw we didn’t like it. How can they call a cleric who’s the son of Iraq’s most respectable Ayetullah, an outlaw. Now I cannot and I do not want to defend him. He’s a criminal and so are all his followers. They have killed civilians, policemen, destroyed a gas station in Sadr city, and are threatening to burn down the oil pipelines now! Why and for what!?”

None of the people I met today showed any sympathy with Sadr and all of them showed eagerness to end this situation in a decisive way, not by negotiation but through capturing or killing Sadr and disarming his militia, but some of them showed pity towards the simple men who are deceived by his propaganda and are till now paying for it instead of the real criminals; Muqtada and his deputies. Many of them were unhappy with the hesitancy the government have shown, as they think that the government and the coalition forces are being rather soft with Muqtada. They all said that the way this will be dealt with should be a lesson to all freedom haters and should send a warning to anyone who might have similar stupid ambitions.

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