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ACTION ALERT: Respect The Shrine of Ali and the City of Najaf


August 12, 2004
Voices in the Wilderness

US military plans to carry the war against Iraqi insurgents from the world's largest cemetary to the 'holiest shrine in Islam,' threatens to bring new and heightened waves of anger washing back toward the shores of America. Make your voices heard to stop this catastrophic and unwinnable madness.

Voices in the Wilderness began sending food and medicine to the Iraqi people in 1996, in defiance of the sanctions, several years before the invasion. They provided a means for volunteers to go to Iraq as human shields during the invasion, and continue to monitor the situation closely.

They say: The Iraqi people are our sisters and brothers. Our humanity demands that we begin to act as if lives of Iraqis and their faith truly matter to us.


Respect The Shrine of Ali and the City of Najaf
Voices in the Wilderness

(August 11, 2004) Our country's military now declares preparations to attack the Shrine of Ali in the city of Najaf in Iraq. Our country stands on the precipice of declaring war on Islam. An attack on the Shrine of Ali is an attack on the heart of Islam and must be nonviolently resisted in our country.

The US military is urging civilians to leave Najaf. We take this as a signal that our country is preparing to turn Najaf into a free fire zone, in which all who move, civilian or not, are targeted for attack. A free fire zone and an attack on the Shrine would significantly escalate the violence throughout Iraq, increasing the danger for all Iraqis.

Take Action to Halt the Assault
As the fighting and crisis intensifies in Najaf, Voices in the Wilderness calls for nonviolent acts demanding an end to the fighting. Call your Congressional Representative, US Senator and John Kerry's campaign headquarters in your state to demand that they publicly call for an end to all US military actions in Najaf, against its citizens and at the Imam Ali Mosque. Call candidates for federal office in your state and issue the same demand.

If they don't respond positively, initiate nonviolent direct actions at their offices. Such nonviolent actions can include: an occupation of their office; a daily vigil outside of their office; a fax campaign to their office demanding they issue the statement; or a phone call campaign to their office.

Also, write letters to the editor of your local newspapers and hold vigils in your local community. The time to act is now.

Voices in the Wilderness calls upon all US government officials-elected or appointed-to publicly declare their opposition to any attack by US military forces against the Shrine of Ali. We further call upon US military forces to withdraw from the holy city of Najaf and to cease all military operations against the city, its citizens and at the Imam Ali Mosque.

Respect the 'Holiest of Shrines'
The Shrine of Ali is the holiest of shrines in Shia Islam. It is the burial place for Imam Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed. The shrine is sacred to both Shia and Sunni Muslims. Attacking the Imam Ali Mosque is akin to bombing the burial site of Jesus for people of the Christian faith or the Western Wall for people of the Jewish faith.

An attack on the Mosque would also replicate the history of oppression of Shia under Saddam Hussein. In 1991, Shia rose up against Saddam Hussein, at the urging of the first President Bush. As US warplanes flew overhead, not intervening, Saddam's helicopters massacred Shia on the ground below. Saddam attacked the Imam Ali Mosque during this time, killing those inside.

As US citizens we must say "no" to this threatened attack on the heart of Islam. We will use all nonviolent means available to us to resist it.

The US Occupation Has Brought Death, Misery and Disorder
The violent overthrow of the Iraqi government and the subsequent military occupation of Iraq have not lead to freedom, security, and prosperity for the Iraqi people. Neither have they created the conditions in which freedom, security, and prosperity can be sown and nurtured. Quite the opposite: the threat and reality of violence is commonplace. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured. To this threat of violence, add the increased threat of water-borne disease and the weight of a collapsed electrical grid.

The Iraqi people are our sisters and brothers. Our humanity demands that we begin to act as if lives of Iraqis and their faith truly matter to us. As US citizens we must respond without equivocation and act to end this war and occupation.

Voices in the Wilderness was formed in 1996 in response to the US economic sanctions against Iraq. Voices has sponsored over 70 delegations to bring humanitarian supplies to Iraqi citizens despite US law. Voices currently faces a $20,000 fine for delivering medicine and other humanitarian supplies to Iraq.

Statement prepared by Kathy Kelly, Tess Kleinhaus, Jeff Leys, Danny Muller, Chuck Quilty, David Smith-Ferri, and Scott Blackburn for the Voices in the Wilderness Chicago office.

Video: Justice and Courage in Occupied Iraq: Challenges for the anti-war movement

Michael Birmingham of Voices in the Wilderness speaks about the occupation of Iraq and resistance to Empire in the US, Iraq and elsewhere from a talk that Michael and Kathy Kelly gave in Chicago, IL, July 7, 2004.
You can view the video at http://vitw.org/video

Audio: To listen to the complete audio of Justice and Courage in Occupied Iraq: Challenges for the anti-war movement please go to http://vitw.org/audio/

Please pass this information on to others. You can visit our email archive at http://vitw.org/emailarchives.html and use "Send this message to a friend" located at the bottom of each archived email.

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