Daily archives: March 23rd, 2008

Two Children Also Died In Baquba Sunday…

Easter Sunday Green Zone bombings, Baghdad, Iraq

Easter Sunday was just another violent day in Iraq, with four American soldiers and 58 Iraqis killed today in violence around the country. The worst was in the Green Zone, above. The four American dead pushes the United States total to 4,000 officially reported.The grim email announcements from various news sources are arriving now.

According to The New York Times:

As many as 20 mortar shells were fired Sunday at the heavily fortified Green Zone, one of the fiercest and most sustained attacks on the area in the last year.

The shelling sent thick plumes of dark gray smoke over central Baghdad and ignited a spectacular fire on the banks of the Tigris River. It ushered in a day of violence that claimed the lives of four American soldiers and at least 58 lraqis around the country.

American military officials said the soldiers were killed by a homemade bomb about 10 p.m. as they patrolled southern Baghdad in a vehicle, pushing the number of American service members killed in Iraq closer to 4,000. Another soldier was wounded in the attack.

This in spite of repeated claims by the Bush Administration that the increase in troop levels has reduced violence across the country.

The Soldier’s names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

MSNBC provides more analysis on the numbers:

Last year, the U.S. military deaths spiked along with the Pentagon’s “surge” — the arrival of more than 30,000 extra troops trying to regain control of Baghdad and surrounding areas. The mission was generally considered a success, but the cost was evident as soldiers pushed into Sunni insurgent strongholds and challenged Shiite militias.

Military deaths rose above 100 for three consecutive months for the first time during the war: April 2007, 104; May, 126 and June at 101.

The death toll has seesawed since, with 2007 ending as the deadliest year for American troops at 901 deaths. That was 51 more deaths than 2004, the second deadliest year for U.S. soldiers.

Our wounded far outnumber our dead:

But a hallmark of the Iraq war is the high wounded-to-killed ratio, partly because of advances in battlefield medicine, enhanced protective gear worn by soldiers and reinforced armored vehicles.

There have been about 15 soldiers wounded for every fatality in Iraq, compared with 2.6 per death in Vietnam and 2.8 in Korea.

The saddest note comes at the end of the NYTimes story:

Two children in Baquba, a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old, also died Sunday. They were playing in a street when a homemade bomb hidden under some garbage detonated, killing them instantly. When the authorities reached the scene, the security official said, all they found were pieces of the children’s bodies.

Happy Easter.

Muslim Baptized – A.P. Fans Flames of Hatred

The Chicago Sun-Times carries a story from the Associated Press about a Muslim who converted to Catholicism at yesterday’s Holy Saturday Vigil at the Vatican. From the story:

Italy’s most prominent Muslim, an iconoclastic writer who condemned Islamic extremism and defended Israel, converted to Catholicism Saturday with an Easter vigil baptism by the pope.

An Egyptian-born, non-practicing Muslim who is married to a Catholic, Magdi Allam infuriated some Muslims with his books and newspaper columns. He titled one book, Long Live Israel.

The story includes some criticism from Yahya Pallavicini, vice president of Coreis, Italy’s Islamic religious community, ”If Allam truly was compelled by a strong spiritual inspiration, perhaps it would have been better to do it delicately, maybe with a priest from Viterbo where he lives.” That’s fine. Baptism by a pope with Vatican Television zooming in for several closeups during the ceremony is a bit out of character for the vast majority who entered the Church this weekend. Although, for a Catholic, it is certainly an incredible honor to even attend a papal mass.

What bothers me is the last line of the story, which includes no citation or source information at all:

There is no overarching Muslim law on conversion. But a widespread interpretation of Islamic legal doctrine says converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death — though killings are rare.

What a horrible way to end a story on a man’s baptism at the Easter Vigil in Rome. What “widespread interpretation of Islamic doctrine” could they possibly be referring to? The Sunna of the Prophet? The Sharia? What? Tell us exactly!

This one sentence is horrifying and irresponsible. Yes, there have been a few Muslims on the fringe who have acted badly in the past and done terrible things, but the overwhelming vast majority of Muslims find peace at the core of their faith, and they live in peace. Throughout history, Jews and members of other faith backgrounds have been treated far better by Muslims than they were by Christians.

This characterization is insulting, especially at a time when we need to continue to building bridges with our Muslim brothers and sisters.