Sunni-shia Tensions In Dearborn

by The New Republic Staff | February 4, 2007

Neil MacFarquhar has a provocative piece in Sunday's Times. Datelined Dearborn, Michigan, the capital of Muslim America, (about which I've written here), it deals with the intra-Islamic wars brought with their luggage by Arab immigrants from the old country to our shores. Or, as MacFarquhar puts it, "Escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East are ripping through some American Muslim communities... Political splits between those for and against the American invasion of Iraq fuel some of the animosity, but it is also a fight among Muslims about who represents Islam." No, no one has been killed. At least, not yet. But, apparently, the bitterness is widespread. And, to the extent that American Muslims reflect the passions in their home countries, the hostilities will not be controlled. Many observers in the U.S. believe that the Muslim communities here are more like other immigrant groups in their indifference to the frenzies at home. Some have pitched this view in TNR. I happen to think that the convulsions are still ahead, that they will come and that they will not be a flurry but a frenzy. Once again, it is the Shi'a who are the victims of Sunni aggressions and hatred. Like it has long been in Iraq. But the advances of the Shia which have frightened so many sated Sunnis there now seem to alert them to Shiaa uppityness here. The role of the Islamic Society of North America and Council on American Islamic Relations in fanning these hostilities from the Sunni side has been foul. These organizations are hate groups much as they purport to be defense groups.

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