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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:Iraq Holy Shrine Bombing Triggers Sectarian Violence;Nation Nears Civil War
02 Mar 2006
Interview with Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, conducted by Between the Lines' Scott Harris
Iraq Holy Shrine Bombing Triggers Sectarian Violence; Nation Nears Civil War

Interview with Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, conducted by Scott Harris

The Feb. 22 bombing of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, one of the holiest sites of the Shia religion in Iraq, set off a wave sectarian violence that in a week may have killed as many as 1,300. In retaliation for the destruction of the gold-domed shrine, Shia militias attacked and killed Sunni clerics and destroyed or took over dozens of Sunni Mosques. The execution-style murders of men, women and children, randomly targeted for their religious faith, illustrated the depth of anger and hate that engulfed Iraq over the past week.

Government police and the U.S. military did little to stop the violence, but the imposition of a daytime curfew limited the carnage. However, continuing attacks and counter-attacks triggered by the shrine bombing has brought the low-level conflict in Iraq closer to becoming an all-out civil war. Shiite and Sunni politicians working to form a new Iraqi government abruptly halted their negotiations, but representatives of both sides publicly blamed the U.S. occupation for being, in part, responsible for the bloodshed.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, who discusses the latest wave of sectarian violence in Iraq and the outlook for a withdrawal of large numbers of U.S. troops.

Contact Middle East Report by calling (202) 223-3677 or visit their website at

Related links:

"Toll in Iraq's Deadly Surge: 1,300," by Ellen Knickmeyer and Bassam Sebti, The Washington Post, Feb. 28, 2006

"Bombing of Shiite Holy Shrine Kills Powerful Cleric and Further Destabilizes U.S.-Occupied Iraq,," Interview with Erik Gustafson, conducted by Scott Harris, Between The Lines week ending Sept. 12, 2003

LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking on one of the links below:
"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to btlqa-subscribe (at)
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Distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions
©2006 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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