Iraq Violence Prompts Daytime Curfew
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. Madeleine Brand is out today. I'm Alex Chadwick. Coming up a little later, NPR's Michael Sullivan is in Manila to cover the attempted coup story in the Philippines. First, the lead: Iraq.
This is the Holy Day, a time for Shiite and Sunni Muslims to go to mosques and pray. That was more difficult in and around Baghdad today because the government ordered a curfew pretty much all day. This followed the bombing of that Shiite religious shrine on Wednesday in Samarra, and the horrific wave of violence in reaction to it. Many Sunni mosques were attacked. At least 130 people were killed yesterday in violence between Sunnis and Shiites. But there were also calls for calm and religious services today that drew Sunnis and Shiites to worship together.
We're joined now Issam Kadhim al Rawi. He's an Iraqi geologist. He lives in Baghdad. He's also a member of the Islamic Endowment Group. It works for peaceful reconciliation of people in Iraq. Issam Kadhim a Rawi, was did people say today in the mosque? What did the religious leader there say?
Mr. ISSAM KADHIM AL RAWI (Member, Islamic Endowment Group): They talk about what's happening in the last three days. You know that more than 200 mosques have been attacked. Some of them have been burned. More than 150 Iraqi Muslim have been killed, so we talk about how can we prevent any kind of killing between the Iraqi people and how can we solve the problem resulting from the explosive, explosions of the mosques in Samarra.
CHADWICK: You were out in the street. You walked, I guess, about a mile to get to your mosque today. What was the sense of just being in the streets today? This was in a neighborhood, a part of greater Baghdad. What are people saying there?
Mr. AL RAWI: All of them are afraid what's happening to them. You know, every minute we hear about a killing. I was coming from Mouqtada al-Sadr Group. I had a commission with them about two hours at this evening. I am driving my car every minute, someone call me that this mosque or the other have been attacked and there is a struggle between the attackers and the defenders.
CHADWICK: So you went to see the people of Mouqtada al-Sadr. He's what many Americans would regard as a hardline anti-American Shiite leader, and what were his people saying about this?
Mr. AL RAWI: We agreed for many issues to prevent the killing of our people and any attack to our holy sites, mosques or libraries or universities.
CHADWICK: I've ready news account in the last day that some Sunni leaders there say the U.S. failed to protect these Sunni mosques that have been attacked. Is that true in your view?
Mr. AL RAWI: Yes, yes. I talked with the Americans so many times, more than ten times I talked to the Americans, and we told them they are failing to protect us. They have the power. They have the soldiers. They have everything. They can do it to prevent what's happening, but I think they do very, very, very little to protect our people.
CHADWICK: Mr. Al Rawi, your English is excellent, but you know this term civil war, you know what civil war means? This is...
Mr. AL RAWI: Yes, I know what civil war, and I hope from God to protect and you from it.
CHADWICK: But people are asking now: Is this a civil war now underway? How would you define the term? And when will you know if you are in a civil war?
Mr. AL RAWI: You see, it is really a beginning of a civil war, and I am a university professor and a cleric. It's my job to be always with my people, to protect them as I can do. Surely I can do little as a single person, but I ought to be with my people to protect them and to prevent the war as I could.
CHADWICK: Who are your people?
Mr. AL RAWI: All the Iraqis, all the Iraqis is my people, and all the innocent people living with us, even the Americans. And we say every person living in my land is my people.
CHADWICK: Issam Kadhim Al Rawi, a geologist and religious man speaking with us from Baghdad. Issam, thank you so much for being with us on DAY TO DAY.
Mr. AL RAWI: Not at all.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.