The Iraqi government declared an immediate curfew in the capital, Baghdad, on Friday to run until Sunday morning. A three-day curfew was put in place in Baghdad and three provinces in February after the bombing of an important Shia shrine sparked violent protests, but pedestrians were allowed to walk to mosques.
This move affects both vehicles and pedestrians, a spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister said. The spokesman did not reveal why a curfew was being put in place, but sectarian violence and blasts have been increasing in recent days. Late on Thursday, the brother-in-law of the new chief judge in Saddam Hussein's trial was shot dead in Baghdad.
Vehicles have been barred from the Iraqi capital on a number of occasions in recent months, but now there is another curfew, announced on state broadcaster Iraqiya. "The government has decided to enforce a curfew on vehicles and individuals starting from Friday evening until 0600 on Sunday morning."
Shia and Sunni militia groups have increasingly been engaged in tit-for-tat attacks on each other since the al-Askari shrine was bombed in February. A Sunni-led insurgency that erupted after the ousting of Saddam Hussein is also continuing. On Wednesday a US military spokesman said that there had been a spike in violence coinciding with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Monday, and that suicide attacks were at record levels. While Iraqi security forces are making a concerted effort to end sectarian violence by targeting death squads, the killings continue.
This is of course, not a accurate portrayal of Muslims nor those Arabs who call themselves Shia and Sunni. Such sectarian tensions always have been a part of Iraqi culture. However, it is hoped that during this holy month both sides can be blessed spiritually; that these individuals are truly touched in the profound way to stop the fighting. This is a hope that leads to another, a hope shared by countrymen everywhere: an end to the American occupation. The question is are Iraqi’s ready to take this leap of faith?