November 27, 2012: Car bombings in Iraq

On this day in 2012, car bombings targeting Shia religious rites in several parts of Iraq killed 33 and wounded 126.

Car bombings targeting Shia religious rites in several parts of Iraq killed 33 and wounded 126.

VARIOUS CITIES, IRAQ – Is it not sad how religious differences have led to so much violence?

When I was growing up in southwestern Ontario I attended a Roman Catholic elementary school, Pius X. Right across the field was a public school, called Prince Roberts PS if I remember correctly. On occasion, we would travel to each other’s school ‘territory’ to play baseball.

These were not ‘friendly’ matches.

I do not know how the kids at Prince Roberts saw us, but I know what we thought of them. For us, ‘PS’ did not stand for ‘public school’. It stood for ‘pagan school’. As Catholics we saw ourselves as religious and righteous, and the others as heathens. And we were only ten years old!

OK, OK, not quite the level of seriousness of other religious conflict. No one got badly hurt. There were no mortar attacks, or IEDs or suicide bombers. Just a bunch of kids who thought they were right and the others were wrong.

French Wars of Religion - Wikipedia
My memory may be wonky but I am pretty sure our baseball games did not look like this! (Photo: By François Dubois (1529 – 1584), Public Domain, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Wikimedia Commons)

Oh if only all religious disagreements were so minor!

If there is one thing about Islamist extremists that you can bank on is that they hate, and I mean REALLY hate, Shia Muslims. They call them the ‘rafidain‘ – Arabic for ‘rejectionists’ – based on their belief that they refused to acknowledge the first three Caliphs (‘successors’) to the Prophet Muhammad (this is too complicated to explain in a short blog – have a look at my third book The Lesser Jihads).

This intense hatred has led to violence against the Shia for more than a millennium (and not just by terrorists). On this day in 2012 car bombs in several cities in Iraq – Baghdad, Kirkuk, Ramadi and Falluja – targeted Shias commemorating ‘Ashura (marking the death of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE). In all, 33 worshipers were killed and 126 wounded.

We started to stop civilian cars asking them to take the wounded to hospital since there were not enough ambulances to transfer them.

A schoolteacher who was near the scene.

More deaths over different ways of honouring the same god. Maybe they should play baseball instead to settle their differences.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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