Iraqi Shi’i Communities in Transition and Dialogue
Chapter 4 Narratives of Shi‘i Opposition and Emancipation in Iraq
Introduction Iraqi Shi‘i exiles who have emigrated to the West recall a history of trauma and oppression from within their own country. Many have experienced the tyranny of dictatorship, war and terrorism. The reality of exile heightens the experience of isolation and dislocation. In mythical memory and in the narratives remembered in exile, Shi‘a have experienced violence and oppression in Iraq from the time of early Islamic history. Recalling Iraqi Shi‘i history is for many exiles to recall a history that goes back for centuries, leading back to the time immediately following the death of the Prophet Muhammad. In this history the Shi‘i minority experienced injustice at the hands of the Sunni majority. Over many generations Shi‘i and Sunni lived in Iraq with a history of tolerance for each other, but the recent events under the Ba‘ath regime, Saddam Hussein and American invasion have increased sectarian divisions to new levels of intolerance and violence. The previous history of Iraqi Shi‘is is viewed from this perspective of injustice and violence. Much has been written about Iraqi history in the twentieth century. The most well known examples are A History of Iraq, Charles Tripp, 2000, and The Modern History of Iraq by Phebe Marr, 2004. These are written from the perspective of political science, outlining the major trends and movements in society and politics. They do not present either a narrative of Shi‘i involvement in history, or a vision of society and history from...
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