Thursday, March 27
Karbala and Najaf: Shia holy cities
BBC News Online, March 26, 2003
The holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, located deep in the Shia heartland of southern Iraq, have traditionally opposed the secularist Baathist rulers in Baghdad.
They are home to some of the most magnificent and sacred shrines of the Shia branch of Islam and are leading centres for scholars of Islamic theology.
The fabled shrines and colleges have long been under the rule of the Baath Party. Saddam Hussein, who claims descent from the Prophet, has put his own pictures on the shrines.
And many Shia clerics from the holy cities have been murdered by the ruling regime. [...]