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Iraq Violence Draws Varying Reactions


Iraqi soldiers gathered in the U.S.-protected Green Zone Friday to celebrate Armed Forces Day. The parades and speeches come one day after suicide bombers in two Iraqi cities killed more than 130 people. Iraqis are both angry, and resigned, to the seemingly unending cycle of violence.

The Shi'ite Imam at the Sayid Edriss mosque in Central Baghdad Friday told a story about how Imam Hussein, a holy figure in Shiite Islam, faced his tormentors with stoicism and grace.

In the last five minutes of the sermon, the Imam related the story to the challenges that face Iraqi Shiite Muslims, one day after a suicide attack just outside the shrine to Hussein killed dozens in Karbala.

The enemies of freedom, of the constitution, and of righteousness and peace, they don't like this new order in Iraq, he said. The tyrannical minority, he said, are trying to rule Iraq by fire and iron.

Shi'ite reaction to Thursday's attack has been mixed. Friday's sermon at the Sayid Edriss mosque did not call for any bloodletting, in line with the restraint Iraq's Shi'ite Spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has urged in the face of attacks that seem aimed at provoking Shi'ite retaliation.

But Shi'ite political leaders have angrily accused the United States of keeping too tight a leash on Iraqi Security Forces. American commanders have attempted to more tightly control the Shi'ite dominated Iraqi Interior Ministry police forces after they found evidence of illegal detentions, torture and executions.

Some Shi'ite leaders have pledged that if the government can't protect the people, then the people have a right to defend themselves, comments that have been interpreted as a veiled threat to unleash Shi'ite militias.

Sabah Noori, 50, a Shi'ite interviewed in Baghdad's upscale Karrada neighborhood, said he is not optimistic about the future.

Mr. Noori says it is the responsibility of the Iraqi government to offer security for the people, but right now he says he does not see the government offering security against terrorism.

Meanwhile, funerals were held Friday for many of those killed in the insurgent violence, which also left 11 U.S. troops dead, one of the worst days for U.S. forces since the operation began.

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