Sectarianism is the big thing in Iraq now. It is also a bad word. You are sectarian! I even saw on a website a while ago one guy, a Sunni from Mosul (you should know Mosul is of course filled with Ba'thist supporter people of many kinds), made a graphic that changed the logo of the al-Iraqiyah (Iraqi state satellite channel) so it said “sectarianism” (al-Ta’ifiyah in Arabic). It was actually nice work with the graphics. The guy thought that al-Iraqiyah is now apparently a Shi’ite sectarian channel. I guess sectarian means being for your sect before anything else. In the ideal world Iraqis would be pro-Iraqi and pan-Iraqi before everything else, or really is that the case? Does that even make sense or is it not even human nature?
Think about this. What makes you more upset, if a random person in a far away place gets killed, or someone in your city gets killed, or if your cousin gets killed? I think it is normal for people to be more effected when something happens to their family than when it happens to someone who isn’t in their close family. And what about your community, people of your same religious beliefs or ethnicity? Isn’t it natural that they are closer to you then others in the same area who aren’t from your community? So do you blame someone for looking out for their community before the others? But that is sectarian!
But talking again about your family, sometimes being sectarian is what it takes to survive. I wrote about militias before, saying how sometimes the militias are what keep people alive. If only one choice will keep you alive, you will probably choose it. If you are a Shi’ite, are you going to vote for the big Shi’ite list (United Iraqi Alliance) that includes powerful parties that bravely fought Saddam (like Da’wa) and those who have militias who have been protecting your neighborhood? In the unstable Iraq it sounds like it makes a lot more sense to vote for them than to take a chance with a small list that probably can never protect you or a list that doesn’t really care about Shi’ite demands. And it is definitely a better choice than voting for the list of an ex-Ba’thist like Allawi or a Sunni sectarian list with politicians who cannot even admit that the Shi’a are the majority. So you see choices are limited.
Sometimes you chose sectarianism to stay alive, but I guess you should be criticized for it. Maybe this explains why so many Sunnis did vote for the bastards Dulaimi and Mutlag. They feel threatened by the Shi’a so they think that these terrorists or Ba’thist-thinking types can protect them against Shi’ite oppression. Of course, the Sunnis must feel more threatened by the Shi’a after the Shi’ite militias committed more crimes against Sunni innocent civilians. But this happened mostly in response to continued Sunni attacks against Shi’a. The worst Sh’ite attacks against Sunnis happened after the terror attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra in February last year when the outrage just made people explode. Sectarian crimes lead to more sectarianism on both sides. If you live in a Shi’ite neighborhood and you see the Sunnis murdering your neighbors every week, then you will start to hate the Sunnis more. Same thing the other way around if you live in a Sunni neighborhood. It goes in circles and things get worse and worse, and today’s Baghdad is the proof of this.
Sectarianism is natural and makes sense. Being for your family and your community is the way things work everywhere in the world. When you are facing a huge threat (mass murderers in the case of Iraq) then you are of course going to protect yourself, your family, your community. I think only in Iraq it is automatically a bad word because people hate to see the Shi’a having power after the Shi’ite majority was oppressed for so long. Still, I think that sectarianism, if it means that you support your group against all others, and support your group in a way to harm others, then it is a crime and such people should be shown as criminals and condemned. It is a fine line, isn’t it? Never black and white and never good and bad!