Saddam Hussein stopped the Shiite pilgrimages under his regieme. He was a secular Sunni, and historically the Sunnis despised the Shiite branch of Islam as heretics.

The good news is that since his fall, Shiites have been allowed to perform pilgrimages to Karbala and other holy shrines, and that many Iranian pilgrims also attend the pilgrimage.

the LATimes notes the car bombs that killed innocent pilgrims, without mentioning that under Hussein the pilgrimage was forbidden…The BBC estimated that Four million people made the pilgrimage. The BBC has the usual “I blame Bush” quote, but the LATimes has this quote:”I don’t know what is going on these days,” said Salih Merza, a grocer in Sadr City. “It is not an act of bravery to kill innocent, unarmed people.”

Salih knows what the news fails to mention: That many of those killed were women and children…

Ironically, it was the NYTIMES that gave the best report of the pilgrimage. They estimated 4 to 7 million attended, and noted the small Shiite Militia demonstration against the US was present. They also noted that in Karbala, there were few deaths due to the increased security (the attacks in the headlines occured elsewhere on pilgrims who were traveling to the shrine, not on the millions who gathered in Karbala).
But the bad news is that googling the headlines, none of this is mentioned. Instead the headlines are of car bombings of the pilgrims during their trip to Karbala.
And, of course, the missing news is the dog that didn’t bark: The fact that several million Iraqis peacefully gathered to celebrate their religion, without huge political demonstrations or rioting.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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