Good Lord!

Good lord, this looks serious:

A dawn bomb attack devastated a major Shi’ite shrine in Iraq on Wednesday, sparking nationwide protests and sectarian reprisals against Sunni mosques despite appeals for calm from government and religious leaders. The attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of Shi’ite Islam’s holiest sites, provoked more violence than attacks that have killed thousands but the Shi’ite-led government insisted it would not provoke civil war…..

No one was killed in the attack on the mosque in Samarra. However a Sunni cleric was killed, police said, at one of 17 Sunni mosques in Baghdad fired on by militants. One mosque was damaged by fire, though most damage appeared relatively minor.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shi’ite, declared three days of mourning and called for Muslim unity. He said the interim government had sent officials to Samarra. Residents said police sealed off the mainly Sunni city, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad; police fired over demonstrators’ heads as they chanted religious and anti-American slogans.

Armed Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took up positions on streets in Baghdad and Shi’ite cities in the south, clashing in Basra and elsewhere with Sunnis; a Sadr aide said: “If the Iraqi government does not do its job to defend the Iraqi people we are ready to do so.”

Witnesses said rocket-propelled grenades damaged a Sunni mosque in Basra and there were heavy exchanges of fire after Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia attacked an Islamic Party office in the city. Thousands of people marched in Shi’ite towns across the country and through the capital, condemning the Samarra attack.

Fears

A quote from a Johann Hari post, via Digby:

But another fight began yesterday: to defend our civil liberties ? and especially those of the decent, democratic Muslim majority ? in an age of terror. I headed for the East London Mosque ? a few minutes? walk away from the bomb in Aldgate ? to watch afternoon prayers. Chairman Mohammed Bari said, ?Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning? Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace.? Everybody in attendance agreed; many headed off to the Royal London Hospital to give blood. But they were afraid the message would not get out: several people were expecting attacks on the mosque tonight.

From the media, it seems to representative of British muslim reactions in general. And quite understandably so.

There ar really several questions here: a) will there be harassment and violence now, in the wake of the attack, b) the long term negative impact n inter-ethic relations, b) will civil liberties be (further) curtailed.

As for b and c, based on the admirably non-hysterical response by the public so far, I’m cautiously optimistic. Cautiously. As for a, it only takes a few racist scumbags, doesn’t it? Regardless of how decent the general population may hypothetically be. But maybe it won’t get really horrifically bad, seeing as I haven’t seen any really serious incidents serious happened in the first night. Or did I miss them.

Guardian reports on the backlash:

At the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, worshippers said passersby had shouted abuse and rattled the entrance gates in the hours after yesterday’s bombings.

Within hours of the attacks police forces across the country were sent advice from the Association of Chief Police Officers on how to counter any backlash.

Forces are supposed to make contact with “vulnerable communities”, in this case Muslims, and react quickly and robustly to incidents of hate crime.

There are two fundamental aims, to keep Muslims safe, then to ensure there is the maximum chance that those with information about the planning of the attacks have the confidence and trust in the police to come forward.

Input from people who know what they’re talking about would be good.

(I’d also like to hear what the long term and short term reaction was after 3/11. It’s not necessarily hugely relevant, but interesting in itself.)

It’s perhaps a phrase that’s lost all meaning, or never had one, but I’d say if bigotry prevails, the terrorism will in some real sense have won.