Thursday, June 14, 2007

Persian Ghosts

by Chris Toensing from The Nation

In the Arab world, many see the malign hand of Iran as well as an illegal US occupation. The Iraqi government is widely viewed as a puppet of the United States or Iran or both. Anti-Shiite sentiments have spread through virulent, Salafi-run TV channels operating in Iraq, as well as through the Iraqi refugees' tales of targeting by death squads. The most popular satellite channel, Al Jazeera, has been banned from Iraq since 2004 because of its alleged sympathies for Sunni rebels, and hundreds of Shiites recently demonstrated in Najaf against its portrayal of Ayatollah Sistani. Among Iraqi Shiites, meanwhile, the old questions of identity and relation to the state are far from settled by the Shiite revival. Notions of Arabism and Iraqi nationalism exert a powerful pull alongside Islamism and sectarian pride.

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