Friday, June 25, 2004


That whole Shiite/Sunni thing.
Ahmed Shammar, a Shiite Muslim, prays in a Sunni Muslim mosque because it’s close to his house. His wife, Shatha, a Sunni, improvises her own daily prayers, mixing Shiite and Sunni rituals.

That she and her husband are from different sects of Islam means nothing to Shatha. "He’s a Muslim and I’m a Muslim," she says, wearing a pale green headscarf that stylishly matches her blouse.

The two were colleagues at a government office when they married in a Shiite ceremony in 1990. Their three children go to Christian schools, where they are also taught the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

"I don’t know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites," said Mustafa, their 12-year-old son. "I don’t want to know the difference."

While the Sunni-Shiite split is bitter in some Muslim areas, Mustafa’s attitude is widespread in Iraq, where intermarriage between the two Muslim sects is common, especially in Baghdad...

Attempts to drive wedges between the two Islamic communities -- such as the March bombings in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and in Baghdad’s Kadhemiya neighborhood -- have been overwhelmingly rejected by public expressions of solidarity.

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