Religious extremism in post-Saddam Iraq

As a result of the US-lead invasion of 2003, religious extremism has become prominent in Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein religions were oppressed and all voices of opposition silenced. Religious extremism did not have a chance to receive the popular support it claims today (2006). Under the Coalition occupation much of Baghdad has fallen under the control of religious extremists, as has much of the Shiite-dominated south.

In other parts of Baghdad “neighbourhood watch” groups and resistance fighters’ man checkpoints to deter militiamen and “government forces” (23) from entering the area. Some of Islam’s worst extremist groups including “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” managed to infiltrate the resistance under the guise of fighting the occupation. However their strategy of targeting Iraqi civilians made them extremely unpopular.

It was only by standing against the occupation that these religious extremist groups managed to establish themselves in Iraq. Given Iraq’s complex multi-cultural history, it is likely that had the occupation brought progress or not occurred at all these groups would never have risen to the level of prominence they hold in Iraq today.
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Religious extremism on the rise in post-Saddam Iraq

The rise of religious extremism in Iraq is a result of the US-lead invasion in 2003. In dire times it is not uncommon for people to turn to religion and extremist groups who knew this used Anti-US sentiments to gain support in Iraq after Saddam’s fall.

Extremists groups crossed the border from Iran (the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq // “Badr Corps”), Saudi Arabia and Jordan (“Al-Qaeda in Iraq”). Prominent religious leaders, whose strong stance against the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq had won over many Iraqi’s, began to envision an Islamic theocracy in Iraq. Damage caused to important religious sites also inflamed caused people to rally behind their religious leaders, who have become more extreme as the occupation continues. As a result of the invasion and the cunning of extremist leaders, religious extremism has thrived in Iraq since 2003.

Through out history it is noted that people tend to turn to religion in times of crisis and war as faith allows us to remain optimistic. This means the already deep roots of religion in Iraq became suddenly much more important during and after the 2003 invasion, providing religious figures with the confidence to speak their minds and promote their own motives. Irani religious leaders including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani provided imported Shiite leaders with credibility and support by endorsing the United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite Bloc) in Iraq’s first round of elections. Continue reading Religious extremism on the rise in post-Saddam Iraq