Our country's military now declares preparations
to attack the Shrine of Ali in the city of Najaf in Iraq. Our country stands
on the precipice of declaring war on Islam. An attack on the Shrine of Ali is
an attack on the heart of Islam and must be nonviolently resisted in our country.
The U.S. military is urging civilians to leave Najaf. We take this as a signal
that our country is preparing to turn Najaf into a free-fire zone, in which
all who move, civilian or not, are targeted for attack. A free fire zone and
an attack on the Shrine would significantly escalate the violence throughout
Iraq, increasing the danger for all Iraqis.
Voices in the Wilderness calls upon all U.S. government officials – elected
or appointed – to publicly declare their opposition to any attack by U.S.
military forces against the Shrine of Ali. We further call upon U.S. military
forces to withdraw from the holy city of Najaf and to cease all military operations
against the city, its citizens and at the Imam Ali Mosque.
Voices calls for citizens of the U.S. to demand that their congressional representative,
U.S. senator and presidential candidate John Kerry publicly call for an end
to U.S. military actions in Najaf, against its citizens and against the Imam
Ali Mosque. If there is no response or a negative response, Voices calls for
nonviolent actions at their offices, such as: an office occupation; a vigil
outside their office; a fax campaign to their office; or a phone call campaign
to their office. Voices further calls for the establishment of vigils in public
spaces throughout the country.
The Shrine of Ali is the holiest of shrines in Shia Islam. It is the burial
place for Imam Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed. The shrine
is sacred to both Shia and Sunni Muslims. Attacking the Imam Ali Mosque is akin
to bombing the burial site of Jesus for people of the Christian faith or the
Western Wall for people of the Jewish faith.
An attack on the mosque would also replicate the history of oppression of Shia
under Saddam Hussein. In 1991, Shia rose up against Saddam Hussein, at the urging
of the first President Bush. As U.S. warplanes flew overhead, not intervening,
Saddam's helicopters massacred Shia on the ground below. Saddam attacked the
Imam Ali Mosque during this time, killing those inside.
As U.S. citizens we must say "no" to this threatened attack on the
heart of Islam. We will use all nonviolent means available to us to resist it.
The violent overthrow of the Iraqi government and the subsequent military occupation
of Iraq have not lead to freedom, security, and prosperity for the Iraqi people.
Neither have they created the conditions in which freedom, security, and prosperity
can be sown and nurtured. Quite the opposite: the threat and reality of violence
is commonplace. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured. To
this threat of violence, add the increased threat of water-borne disease and
the weight of a collapsed electrical grid.
The Iraqi people are our sisters and brothers. Our humanity demands that we
begin to act as if the livesofIraqisandtheirfaithtrulymattertous.As
U.S. citizens we must respond without equivocation and act to end this war and
Contact: Jeff Leys or Safaa Abdel-Magid at 773-784-8065; email@example.com
Voices in the Wilderness was formed in 1996 in response to the U.S. economic
sanctions against Iraq. Voices has sponsored over 70 delegations to bring humanitarian
supplies to Iraqi citizens despite U.S. law. Voices currently faces a $20,000
fine for delivering medicine and other humanitarian supplies to Iraq.