Monday, April 29, 2013

Bombers in Boston and Pakistan

Early Sunday afternoon, a group of Shia Muslims from Pakistan arranged for a demonstration in Civic Center Plaza offering condolences over the Boston Marathon bombing while pointing out they have been dealing with the same problem "for centuries."

According to the Canadian exile Murtaza Haider, the radicalized Muslim fighters from the Afghanistan war stirred up violence in Kashmir when they returned to Pakistan a decade ago, but this time around they are taking it out on Shia Muslims in Southwest Pakistan. There have been a trio of absolutely horrendous public bombings in Shia markets, mosques and neighborhoods this year that make Boston look like kids' stuff. For more info, click here for an article in The Telegraph, here for a post at The New Yorker, and here for an article by Kathy Gannon of AP.

The Shia/Sunni divide is best understood as a Protestant/Catholic split of the same basic religion, but except for the Irish, the Prots and Catholics are no longer murdering each other in sectarian violence, something they specialized in for centuries. Of course, part of the escalating problem for Shia and Sunni Muslims in the Mideast is that the Western imperial powers have been playing divide and conquer between the two sects forever, so that everyone has an authentic narrative to tell about the other side selling out like traitors to the conquerors. The Shias, for instance, are the minority ruling power in Syria who have been responsible for the death of tens of thousands of their Sunni citizens, who they conveniently brand as tools of Western imperialism.

In any case, the situation in Pakistan for the Shia minority right now is dire, and it was a pleasure to see that these Bay Area exiles felt confident enough to display their position in a public forum. The real subtext is that the West needs to get the hell out of the Mideast and let the two sides figure out peace on their own, but capitalist global energy politics make that impossible right now.

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