War of the mosques returns amid fears of new cycle of civil war

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By Kareem Abdulzair

Azzaman, May 27, 2014

The disparate sectarian groups in Iraq, namely Muslim Shiites and Sunnis, do only kill each other. They destroy each other’s mosques and places of worship.

‘War of the mosques’ was the trigger for the all-out civil war in Iraq which only subsided in 2008 after nearly three years of indiscriminate killing.

Now that tensions between Shiites and Sunnis are rising, there are reports that ‘the war of the mosques’ is making a comeback in restive Iraqi provinces, particularly those with mixed populations.

In return of each place of worship burned, blown up, ransacked or destroyed by one side, the other side responds in the same manner.

Numerous places of worship have been destroyed particularly in the Province of Diyala of which Baaquba is the capital.

Diyala is predominantly a Sunni province but it also includes a large minority of Muslim Shiites, among them Turkmen, Iraqis of Turkish ethnic descent.

Militias reportedly belonging to Shiite factions are said to have recently destroyed several Sunni mosques in reprisal for the destruction of their own places of worship by militants from the Iraq-based Jihadist group, ISIS.

ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is a fundamentalist Sunni organization, and abhors the Shiites and their places of worship.

Since early 2014, when violence surged mainly in the western Province of Anbar, at least six Sunni mosques have been destroyed in Diyala.

The last mosque to be blown up was the one in the town of Bahraz, which has been the scene of car and suicide bombings in the past three months.

In other developments, fighting continued over the town of Falluja, which is currently occupied by ISIS.

Hospital sources said mortars on Monday killed four more people and injured seven others in Falluja.

“The hospital received four dead bodies and seven people who were injured as a result of the shelling,” said Ahmad al-Shami, who speaks for the state-run hospital in Falluja.