Vandals Hit Shi’a Stores

Darren A. Nichols and Gregg Krupa, Detroit News, Jan. 9, 2007

Muslim leaders say a spate of vandalism over the weekend involving stores owned by local Iraqis could stem from brewing sectarian Islamic tension over the execution of Saddam Hussein.

While Shi’a and Sunni Muslims are fighting in Iraq, the two groups generally get along in Metro Detroit and the United States. But Muslim and Arab leaders say the hanging of Saddam, and especially the timing of the execution, spurred hard feelings.

They say the vandalized property was owned or operated by people of Iraqi descent

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The tension that concerns Muslim leaders was spurred by the timing of the execution, according to Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations and other community leaders.

Saddam was ordered hanged by the Shi’a controlled government of Iraq on the morning Sunnis began celebrating Eid al-Adha, the holiest of Islamic festivals. Most Shi’a did not begin to celebrate until the following day.

While Shi’a Iraqis took to the streets of Dearborn to celebrate, many other Muslims viewed the timing of the execution as an insult. Realizing the tension in the local community, some clergymen were considering meeting this week to take action.

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The two major branches of Islam are split over governance of the faith. The Sunnis believe that because the prophet Muhammad designated no successor, the leader should be chosen or elected from the most knowledgeable Muslims.

The Shi’a believe the leaders should be drawn from the bloodline of the prophet, from his daughter Fatima and her husband, Ali, who also was Muhammad’s cousin.

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