A lot people, especially in These United States, (including Fareed Zakaria on The Daily Show with Jon Steward) have been engaging in high-fives and triumphalism (or the Talk Show-Call In and/or e-mail equivalent thereof) about the "successful elections" in Iraq. Being a confessed Sunni (or is it confessional Sunni?), though not an Iraqi, I thought I would write a response:
I pray most fervently that what most of you have said is true. In the historical narrative of my community (actually, several communities I am part of) Baghdad has a depth of importance that most of y'all cannot begin to fathom--or maybe you can, if have ever sung the songs of slaves (Africans in America and Hebrews in Egypt and elsewhere) about a capital long lost and now in ruins, a far, far way from the glory it once had and deserves. Saddam was only the latest of monsters to despoil one of the greatest seats of civilization the world has known.
I pray that englightenment, moderation, and brotherhood between Chaldean Christians, those that revere Ali and Hussain, and people that pray at the mosque in downtown Baghdad named after the scholar whose writings and name identify the religious practice of my parents (Imam Abu Hanifa) can all live again in a society that is a beacon of how differences can enrich and advance human civilization.
The problem is not between the Christians and Muslims or Sunnis and Shias; but with the fanatic Shias, the neo-conservative Muslims, the neo-Hindu groups, and the neo-conservative and neo-imperialist (of course, in the cause of civilizing imperialism) parts of the Western establishment. Each of their intolerant jingoism is first and foremost felt by their own "softer" co-religionists, compatriots or what have you.
And prayers begin at home, so I pray that the new-line conservatives (dare I say neo-cons?) of the Islamic world--people whose way of understanding and practising the religion made my late maternal grandfather to change the mosque he walked to five times a day in Karachi, Pakistan--are not successful in changing the nature of the community of Muslims in the world in any permanent way.
I pray that when cars are allowed to run in Iraq again, there are no more car bombs.
I know I pray against what will most probably happen. For having to ban moving traffic is not a good omen for a free and fair election.
And I pray for the souls of the American soldiers that have given their lives in Iraq; for I have met the common American and she and he are probably the most sincere, most unqualifiedly (and I pray that is a real word) well-meaning person I have met on four continents.
I can only pray you are right. For I have lived under "controlled democracy"; and I have not seen it be good for a nation in the long run. But I pray this will be an exception.