Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jihad Story of the Day: Ramadan observance in Iraq: Sunnis, Shi'ites hit each others' mosques, murdering 26

Note: "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" major conference sponsored by Ave Maria Radio, is coming up August 10. Don't forget to register at

The AP headline is "Drive-by shootings, bombings kill 26 in Iraq." Once again, we see the curious displacement of agency that is so common in such stories. Actually, it was Islamic jihadis who killed 26 in Iraq.

"Drive-by shootings, bombings kill 26 in Iraq," by Sameer N. Yacoub for the Associated Press, July 31:
BAGHDAD -- Attacks including bombings of Shiite and Sunni mosques left 26 dead in Iraq, the latest in a surge of bloodshed that is raising fears of a return to widespread sectarian killings, officials said Wednesday.Most attacks on Shiites are presumed to be carried out by the country's branch of al-Qaida, which claimed credit on Tuesday for a wave of bombings the day before that killed at least 58 people. It said the attacks were carried out on behalf of "oppressed Sunnis," suggesting the group is trying to capitalize on Sunnis' complaints of being treated as second-class citizens by the Shiite-dominated government.

Attacks on Sunni civilians are rarer but have also been a feature of the surge of bloodletting that has left 3,000 dead since April. More than 730 people have been killed in July alone, according to an Associated Press count, with 563 killed since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The uptick of violence is dampening hopes for a return to normal life nearly two years after the last U.S. forces withdrew from the country.

On Wednesday morning, a carload of gunmen sped through a commercial street in Baghdad's Shiite-dominated Ur district and opened fire, apparently at random, killing five pedestrians and wounding nine others, a police officer said. In the southeastern suburb of Nahrawan, also a majority Shiite area, drive-by shooters sprayed farmers in a pickup truck with bullets, killing two and wounding three, another police officer said.

In the afternoon, gunmen killed five off-duty soldiers in a drive-by shooting near the city of Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad. Police said that the soldiers were heading to their base when they were attacked.

Also, police said three Sunni anti-al-Qaida fighters were killed when gunmen in a speeding car sprayed their checkpoint with bullets near Hawija, 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad.

The Sunni fighters were members in the militia group known as Sahwa, which joined with U.S. troops in the war against al-Qaida at the height of Iraq war. Ever since, it has been a target for Sunni insurgents who consider them traitors.

Late Tuesday, a suicide bomber set off his explosives among Shiite worshippers leaving a mosque in the city's suburb of Hussainiya, killing seven. Another bomb struck a Sunni mosque in the ethnically mixed northern town of Tuz Khormato killed four, local police chief Col. Hussein Ali Rasheed said. Four others were wounded.

Medical officials confirmed casualty figures for all attacks. All spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information to reporters.

Al-Qaida's Tuesday statement also said that a campaign called "Breaking the Walls," which made freeing its imprisoned members a top priority, had come to a close with two attacks on prisons last week that allowed hundreds of inmates, including senior al-Qaida members, to escape. The militant group said that it was opening a new campaign called "The Harvest of the Soldiers," but offered no specifics.


  1. The conference question is valid and serious scholars disagree as to the answer, but posts like this leading up to the conference do not instill confidence that it will be more than Catholic neocon propaganda.

  2. Brother Kevin Gregorek, MICAugust 2, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Has anyone else been struck by the fact that multiple comments have been left by "Anonymous" over the past few weeks that greatly diverge from, if not outright decry, the teachings of the Catholic Church? Many of the posts are political in nature, but even then tie into the poster's dissent from Catholic teachings (Exhibit A is the possibly anti-Semitic comment posted above.)

    The strident tone and misunderstanding of the nature of Church teaching, the Magisterium, and Tradition lead me to think that someone is trolling and trying to rile up anger among those Catholics who are faithful to orthodox Catholic teachings. I urge everyone not to take the bait, not to be as uncharitable in your responses as the anonymous posters can sometimes be in their original comments, and to pray for them. There seems to be a slowly "graying" faction of old-school Catholics on the political Left who somehow believe that their hooting and hollering dissent will somehow change Church teachings, and sadly they seem ignorant of exactly why the Church teaches what it does, and why any of those matters of faith and moral will not change, indeed cannot be changed (e.g., women's ordination, contraception, same-sex so-called "marriage," etc.) In fairness, there are many Catholics in the U.S. on the political Right who are guilty of ignoring certain areas of Church teaching whenever it contradicts their politics (e.g., on the human dignity aspects of immigration, on the dignity of same-sex attracted people, on economic issues like a preferential option for the poor), but one major difference is that these issues all admit of prudential judgments that may differ according to one's political inclinations--they are not primarily issues of Church doctrine that are cut-and-dry in terms of their moral components. Let's pray that Pope Francis be graced to help us all see our own sin and our own misery before God, but at the same time our own inherent dignity as God's children. Once that self-understanding in relation to God the Father is accepted and embraced by Catholics, we are better able to comprehend Church teachings and live them out as brothers and sisters in Christ. May God bless Pope Francis and his ministry at the barque of Peter, for it will not be an easy one to undertake in this day and age.

  3. Al's presentation of Islam has often not been fair. I have a colleague who is Islamic and he and his wife and children are truly wonderful. I approve of his wife's modest clothing. They are sweet and kind to everyone and terrific parents.

    Let's acknowledge that reasonable Catholics can fairly disagree on questions of sexuality (and in their practice often do.) For example, I'm conservative and traditional, but I don't agree with the Church's teaching on contraception or divorce, but I strongly oppose abortion. I favor a more open immigration policy than the Republicans do (agreeing with the Bishops) and I favor universal health care (very Catholic). Not sure what to make of the gays, but I agree with the Pope on not judging and live and let live. If one of my kids were gay, I would want that child to be able to be married and not live alone and be lonely and sad.

    You sound a bit tyrannical here, but probably are just upset that some thinking people disagree yet stay in the Church. I do hope that the Church's teaching on women will change. it's hard to tell one's daughter that the Church forbides women in position of power and authority. My daughter just walked out of the room in a huff!

  4. Brother Kevin Gregorek, MICAugust 2, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Hmm, tyrannical, eh? Because the Church's teachings don't line up with your wishes, that's tyrannical? I'm sorry to see such a Protestantized, Americanized way of thinking of things coming from a Catholic. We ought to remember that we are Catholics first, and that the American tendency (so strongly felt in the world that it's even been denounced by different popes as the sin of "Americanism") to think that one's personal freedom to act however one feels like acting is very much a modern (specifically Enlightenment-era) invention, a product of an anti-religious, scientistic mentality that flatly rejected metaphysical realities that are at the very heart of our sacramental worldview as Catholics.

    Even your (and in fairness, many others') view that somehow women are kept out of power in the Church because only men can be ordained (that came from God, by the way--Christ became incarnate as a male, not as a female) is very sad and closed-minded, as if the priesthood were in any way about power and not about service. Do you not appreciate that God's finest human creation, Our Lady and the 'theotokos'--the mother of God) was a woman? It's very sad that you cannot see that the Catholic Left's criticisms and dissension are all built on foundations of sand. There is so much beauty and freedom to be had by embracing Christ in His fullness, in the fullness of the faith taught by the Catholic Church. The Church's teachings are based on the Good, the True and the Beautiful, all aspects of the faith that contribute to human flourishing because God designed us that way. To the extent that we embrace divorce, contraception, same-sex so-called marriage, etc., we are embracing lies that the secular culture wishes to force upon everyone as if they were good. When we do that, we reject what God has given us through both natural law and revelation, and in effect we say to God, "I know better than you! My generation is progressive and open-minded, so we know that You've had it wrong all this time and have just been oppressing us all along!" These are all lies rooted in secular humanism, Marxist and Hegelian dialectical thinking, etc. The language of power has no place in the Church, for God is the Almighty. Instead, embrace the language of love, of charity, of mercy, of service. So many lies have distorted our American Catholic culture, destroying it bit by bit from the inside. But alas, Christ is all in all, and we know that He has defeated the Enemy forever. But the King of Lies is still allowed by God to tempt us, isn't he? And we can see him working so often in our modern culture wars, can't we? Lies like "the Church is about power for old celibate men!" or "The Church hates gays and hates freedom!" All lies of the Enemy.

    As for your examples about political issues, yes there are very much Catholic stances on things like immigration, and not every Catholic follows them (and by the way, looking at immigration--or most of these cultural battleground issues-- through the lens of partisan politics is not very Catholic at all, as the Church's stances don't fit neatly into any kind of Left-Right political spectrum.) The answer is not to be partisan, but to be fully Catholic, for only there can the truth be found. Let's read from the Church's founts of wisdom, i.e., from the writings of the saints, of the popes, of the Magisterium before we read or listen to what to believe about issues from MSNBC, CNN or Fox News, none of whom have the Truth in the way that the Church itself possesses and diffuses the Truth of Christ.

    1. I'll continue to evaluate the teachings of the Church in the only way I can, with my own mind and judgment. I'm not prepared to give up my reason and accept each and every teaching of the Church on faith and without analysis. You would have us become less than human, for to reason is what makes us human, it's our distinguishing characteristic--said old Aristotle. So there will be doubt and disagreement. This is natural and you shouldn't be sad about this, but recognize it as a sign of our humanity. I do respect your faith and your devotion to the Church, but I know many Catholics who disagree with certain Church teachings and are, in their own eyes, not less devoted to the common good or less loving of others than you.

  5. Brother Kevin Gregorek, MICAugust 3, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Thank you, anonymous--I appreciate that response. I would encourage you to do exactly that: reason out what the Church teaches and why it teaches that. The Church itself bids us do exactly that, for it is one of the foremost defenders of philosophy and right reason in our secular age. The papal encyclicals, speeches, homilies, etc. are often chock-full of references to Aristotle, Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and many more of the very best and most reasonable thinkers the world has ever produced. I think it's a misconception if one believes that the Church teaches something with no basis in reason or logic, let alone just to make some kind of "power play" as it may be called in secular political terms. Reason, think, and pray. There's a reason (no pun intended) why St. Anselm's motto was "faith seeking understanding." See the quote below that I found on the Stanford Philosophy Encyclopedia web site --it bears strongly on what we are discussing here:

    "Other philosophers have noted that “faith seeking understanding” begins with “faith,” not with doubt or suspension of belief. Hence, they argue, the theistic arguments proposed by faith seeking understanding are not really meant to convince unbelievers; they are intended solely for the edification of those who already believe. This too is a misreading of Anselm's motto. For although the theistic proofs are borne of an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of the beloved, the proofs themselves are intended to be convincing even to unbelievers. Thus Anselm opens the Monologion with these words:

    If anyone does not know, either because he has not heard or because he does not believe, that there is one nature, supreme among all existing things, who alone is self-sufficient in his eternal happiness, who through his omnipotent goodness grants and brings it about that all other things exist or have any sort of well-being, and a great many other things that we must believe about God or his creation, I think he could at least convince himself of most of these things by reason alone, if he is even moderately intelligent. (M 1)
    And in the Proslogion Anselm sets out to convince “the fool,” that is, the person who “has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1)."

    1. We have a deep agreement in the need to study the Bible and the Church authorities, especially the great Aquinas.

      I'm sure you are aware that there is possible a still more radical point of view on the question of revelation v. reason (or philosophy), and that is that one must ultimately choose: will one follow Socrates ("the unexamined life is not worth living") or Abraham (complete obedience to the unintelligible Almighty God). This view holds that ultimately no synthesis between these two demanding positions is possible. Perhaps to answer this question must itself be an act of faith in either reason or revelation.

      On "the fool" who says "there is no god," you may recall that this is used by Hobbes (a deep atheist to be sure) to good effect in Leviathan.

      All best wishes and God bless.

    2. I should add that the view stated denying the possibility of synthesis is that of Leo Strauss, who was a most serious student of the conflict between ancients and moderns, and between philosophy and revelation.