Sectarian Battles on YouTube

April 3, 2008 § Leave a comment

While watching al-Jazeera’s exclusive interview with Muqtada al-Sadr (his first televised appearance in about a year) on YouTube, I scrolled down to read the comments. We all know anonymous commenting on YouTube empowers assholes to be bigger assholes and I don’t want to provide a platform for the hatred and prejudice that some people espouse (since these people are usually a minority), but I do want to highlight how sectarian tensions have manifested themselves on YouTube.

Here is the comment from YouTube user “TruthDaTruth” which prompted further investigation:

dirty filthy muqtada the aeroplane of sadri is worthless

The YouTube user “TruthDaTruth” obviously typed his original Arabic into a bad online translator which resulted in “al-Tiyyar al-Sadri” or the Sadr Current/Wing being translated into the “aeroplane of sadri.” In Arabic, “tiyyar” literally means current, like an air or water current, but it used to mean political currents as well. So, the “aeroplane of Sadr” is literally the “Sadr current.”

Anyways — I checked out the guy’s profile and there is an interesting mix of insults and compliments being hurled at TruthDaTruth. (It appears possible that TruthDaTruth is Sunni and harbors some resentment toward Shi’a, but I, nor any of the commenters, know this person’s true identity.)

The comment breakdown:

1) Insults from Shi’a or supporters of Shi’a who do not appreciate his Shi’a bashing.

saudi wahabi lozer,,, saudi wahabi lozer to hell with zarkawi el zarbawi haha and to hell with bin laden bin monkeys hahahaha

2) Insults from individuals who are anti-Muslim and not discriminating between sects.

fuck you, why u named after a Christian rapper u dumb fucked up muslim hahahaha go suck off ya imam u faggot ass bitch

you muslim prick. if you fuckers didnt fly planes into the twin towers there wouldnt be wars all over the shit muslim countries…..
3) Compliments and support from people who appear to be anti-Shi’a. One commenter posted a link to his anti-Shi’a blog which I will not link to here because it is hate speech. Another uses a photo of Bin Ladin as his user photo and expresses support for TruthDaTruth.

Internet as “Real” Speech

I think that many of us define certain Internet spaces as a “community” of sorts. We post videos, photos, and journals on the Internet and many times, people respond. The purpose of this post is to show how certain types of Internet communities are host to some very negative and racist ideas and how they do not serve any constructive purpose whatsoever. I think we have to ask how these Internet “communities” translate into “real” life — but at the same time — I think this question is problematic since the Internet is becoming more integrated into our everyday lives. By this, I mean that the “anonymous commenter” may appear to be a faceless, distant Internet user, but in many societies where the Internet is pervasive, the speech that is made online may just as well have been made face-to-face. Speech made on the internet is “real” speech and should be treated as a tangible phenomenon and not something that exists in some “digital” world of little consequence.


Are you a Badri or Sadri?

April 3, 2008 § 3 Comments

Leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council Abdul Aziz al-Hakim meets with George W. Bush in 2006.

Muqtada al-Sadr did not meet George W. Bush in 2006.

Both Muqtada al-Sadr and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim represent the Shi’a in Iraq. But they represent the Shi’a in very different ways — through their conflicting political movements and military wings.

Sadr’s military wing — or Jaysh al-Mehdi — is in direct opposition to Hakim’s (and the SIIC’s) Badr Wing. One of the factors which creates a divide between the two is relations with the Occupying Forces. Despite anti-Occupation rhetoric and conflict with the United States, Sadr’s movement surely has ties with the US and has engaged in different agreements with the US, as seen by Sadr’s recent cease-fire. Yet Hakim and the SIIC (formerly SCIRI) have cultivated ties with the US since Shock and Awe.

Badri vs. Sadri*

An al-Hayat article from Husayn Ali Dawod explains this internal Shi’i division in light of the recent battles between Iraqi Forces and Jaysh al-Mehdi. He says that differences between the groups have intensified since the recent fighting.

The author explains that individuals who are loyal to Sadr but live in areas controlled by the Badr wing conceal their loyalties to Sadr, and vice versa. For example, if a person has a photo of Sadr on their car and are coming to a government checkpoint, the photo must come down. Sources say that both factions have elaborate intelligence networks which determine people’s allegiances.

Some common slogans seen on building walls in areas loyal to Sadr are: Bring Down the New Maliki dictatorship; Bring Down Hakim — an agent (‘ameel) of the US. Meanwhile, in the Hakim-loyal districts of Karada and Washash in Baghdad, you find slogans that express support for the government

*In Arabic, you can create an adjective by adding an “ee” sound to many words. So, if one is loyal to the Badr Wing, then you can be called a “Badri,” the same is true for “Sadri.” The female form would be “Badriyeh” or “Sadriyeh.”

This picture of Sadr is in not really relevant to anything, but I just wanted to remind you all that he is RADICAL and EVIL and HATES AMERICA and wears a BLACK CAPE.

Sadr releases statement calling for end of armed conflict

March 31, 2008 § Leave a comment

Muqtada al-Sadr released a nine-point statement calling for an end to the “manifestations of arms.” Here is a copy of the statement in Arabic from Inbaa news service and here are a few of the points below:

  1. Put an end to all manifestations of arms in Basra and all other districts.
  2. Stop all house-raids (al-mudahunaat) and all random, illegal arrests.
  3. Call on the government to apply a general amnesty (al-‘afo) law and a release of all prisoners who have not been proved guilty, especially those from the Sadr Wing (al-tiyar al-sadri).

Fighting between Iraqi Security Forces and Jaysh al-Mehdi continues

March 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

US Apache helicopters bombed houses in Hilla, Iraq, killing up to 60 civilians and wounding dozens more. The Pentagon said that US troops were providing air support to Iraqi security forces who have been fighting with Jaysh al-Mehdi for the past three days. The most intense fighting has been in Basra and Kut, where hundreds have been killed or injured.

(Democracy Now and al-Tariq ila Karbala)

This woman’s son was killed yesterday in Hilla during the fighting.

Al-Hayat reports that Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki refuses to negotiate with militants from Jaysh al-Mehdi. Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr are holding demonstrations calling for the resignation of Maliki and for him to have a trial like Saddam Hussein’s.

Screen Shots!

March 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

Al-Jazeera used this shot from al-Manar with their article.

Al-Nour, the Hezbullah radio station, used this screen shot with their article.

The Secretary General of Hezbullah Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech today in Beirut 40 days after the assassination of Hezbullah military commander Imad Mughniya. (The time period of 40 days is significant because it represents the 40 days of mourning in Shi’i Islam for Imam Husayn, who is seen as the most prominent martyr.)

You can listen to the full speech here with Real Player, but al-Jazeera also has a concise wrap-up. Nasrallah reiterated that he is determined to react to Israel’s assassination of Mughniya. He also said that the public has expressed their support for the Resistance (al-muqawama) through a series of several polls. Nasrallah said that 80% of Lebanese from different sects expressed support action that would lead to the downfall of the zionist regime (al-nidham al-sahyoniyya) and that 50% want to see Israel totally disappear (zawal).

There will be mixed translations of the word “zawalwhich I have chosen to translate as “disappearance,” but it can also be translated as “extinction” or “cessation.”


March 3, 2008 § Leave a comment

Ahmadinejad with Iraqi President Jalal Talibani from al-Jazeera.

Ahamadinejad to visit Najaf and Karbala

Al-Hayat reports that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit the Shi’i holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to visit the shrines of Imams Ali and Husayn, respectively, and pay a visit to Grand Ayatullah Sistani. A representative from Sistani’s office has confirmed the visit, but did not give details on what would be discussed.

Iraqi security forces have taken increased security measures in preparation for his visit and the Electric Ministry announced that electricity will not be cut from Imam Ali’s shrine in Najaf for the next three days. Shaykh Husayn al-Safar, a top religious scholar in the Najaf hawza (or seminary), said that Ahmadinejad’s visit is confirmation that the hawza of Najaf is the principle center for Shi’i studies and that the city’s ‘ulama (or religious scholars) are recognized as spiritual leaders of the Shi’a.

Walayat al-Faqih

Another scholar said that despite Sistani’s Iranian identity, Sistani operates outside of the framework of nationalism and politics and that he has not recognized the authority of the walayat al-faqih. The three other grand ayatullahs living in Najaf — Muhammad Sa’id al-Hakim, Muhammad Ishaq al-Fiyad, and Bashir al-Najafi — also do not recognize the concept of walayat al-faqih and refuse to have it taught in the hawza.

(Photo of the Sayyida Zaynab shrine in Damascus from Novine . . . who was allowed to take photos.)


In the summer of 2007, Ahmadinejad paid a visit to Shi’i shrines in Damascus, including the shrines of Sayyida Ruqayya and Sayyida Zaynab. (Ruqayya is the daughter of Imam Husayn and Zaynab his sister.) The big news at this time was that Ahmadinejad broke into tears at Zaynab’s shrine. Maybe we’ll have a repeat showing.


February 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

(Image of the Imam Husayn shrine during Arba’een in Karbala from al-Manar.)

Arba’een means 40 in Arabic and it is the length of time which Shi’i Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the son of Ali and the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. Yesterday was Arba’een and 7-9 million Shi’a visited the Iraqi city of Karbala where Imam Husayn was killed in battle in the year 680.

People wore black. Some hit themselves. Attacks were thwarted. No one was killed.

(Image from al-Rai.)

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