As a Shi'a, I am used to others denigrating Ali ibn Abi Talib (SA), denying his status as the Prophet's SAW designated heir and successor, and labeling those who follow Ali's teachings as heretics. I myself have been barred form paying respects at the tombs of the religious leaders of our community, by young boys armed with stones, who threatened to crack my skull if I prostrated myself. There is no anger like that of a believer thwarted from expresssing his belief, but I have always been taught that we must abide, we must have patience, we must do taqiyyah. But no persecution is borne lightly. This was the lesson of the martyrdom of Imam Husain on the plains of Karbala.
And now, this - a suicide bomb attack on the House of Ali AS, on the first day of the Month of Ali AS (Shere Rajab al-Asab).
There is anger, there is sorrow, there is fear, but there is also conviction. The enemies of Ali only have the power to kill.
UPDATE: well, at least the American priorities in Iraq are clear. (addendum: Bremer was on vacation.)
UPDATE 2: Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim is confirmed dead in the bombing. He was widely regarded as a moderate and sought to avoid confrontation with US forces, and his brother serves on the Governing COuncil. An excellent article in the Financial Times details the history of the rivalry between the competing SHi'a groups and the allegation that the bombing in Najaf was the work of Moqtadar's followers. Personally, I cannot believe that any Shi'a would attack the Shrine of Ali. It makes as much sense as Osama bin Laden burning the Qur'an live on Al-Jazeera.
UPDATE 3: Tacitus suggests that Muslim violence against Muslim holy sites is not uncommon, pointing to a siege of the Great Mosque in Mecca in 1979 by some extremists. But the event in question resulted in no damage - ie a physical attack on the structure - it was instead an attempt to take control of the compound. The Sunni jihadists who were behind the siege had no compulsion in executing other believers, of course, which is about par for the course. Also worth noting is that Shi'a blood and the Shi'a holy sites are bomb-fodder for Sunnis worldwide.
UPDATE 4: I'm struggling to redirect my outrage over the incident - I don't believe any force on Earth could marshall against Ali's physical tomb. This was an attack on believers first and foremost.
UPDATE 5: An email on Tacitus' blog suggests the next target could be the holy tomb of Imam Husain AS in Karbala. My initial reaction was simple denial. But I am beginning to see the grim logic of the campaign thus far. The Coalition must send troops to Karbala and make safety at the holy shrines the highest priority of the New Iraqi Army and civil defense.