Saturday, February 25, 2006

RIVERBEND HAS A NEW POST UP. I was relieved to see it because at least as of two days ago she and her family were okay. She describes the violence and fear in Baghdad since the mosque bombing. I can only imagine what it must be like; and I have no illusions that my imaginings come close to the reality.

She describes visiting the mosque years ago, before the U.S. invasion; and contrasts the peace she felt then with the violence of the act that destroyed the mosque.

We got there just as the sun was setting and I remember pausing outside the mosque to admire the golden dome and the intricate minarets. It was shimmering in the sunset and there seemed to be a million colors -- orange, gold, white -- it was almost glowing. The view was incredible and the environment was so peaceful and calm. There was none of the bustle and noise usually surrounding religious sites -- we had come at a perfect time. The inside of the mosque didn't disappoint either -- elaborate Arabic script and more gold and this feeling of utter peace... I'm grateful we decided to visit it.

We woke up this morning to news that men wearing Iraqi security uniforms walked in and detonated explosives, damaging the mosque almost beyond repair. It's heart-breaking and terrifying. There has been gunfire all over Baghdad since morning. The streets near our neighborhood were eerily empty and calm but there was a tension that had us all sitting on edge. We heard about problems in areas like Baladiyat where there was some rioting and vandalism, etc. and several mosques in Baghdad were attacked. I think what has everyone most disturbed is the fact that the reaction was so swift, like it was just waiting to happen.

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