Friday, March 11, 2011

A Shrine Rebuilt

In Samarra, the Askariya Shrine has been rebuilt and reopened, 6 years after its dome was destroyed by a terrorist bomb. The Times article on this very good news has a rather dark and negative tone, because the re-opening of the shrine has led to new conflicts. The Shi'ite foundation that rebuilt the shrine is buying up nearby houses and would like to demolish a large swath of old Samarra to make room for hotels and other modern development. Most of those houses belong to Sunnis, leading to sectarian murmurs.

I think this "conflict" is actually another promising sign. Disputes over whether to preserve old neighborhoods or demolish them for modern hotels are normal politics everywhere in the world, and in many places these disputes have ethnic overtones (including the US). Conflict over such issues is part of normal life, even conflict that leads to demonstrations and low-level violence. I suppose every time a Sunni and a Shi'ite come into conflict in Iraq there is a chance of bombs being thrown, but the solution is not for people to stop arguing. Argument is central to human life, and the more free the society, the more argument there will be.

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