Thursday, February 28, 2008

Local news

Al-Hayat notes that some of the Sunni areas on the Sadr City to Karbala route have set up rest and welcome areas for the Shiite pilgrims, taking advantage of improved security conditions compared to last year, and hoping to contribute to a restoration of traditional relationships.

The journalist says the Shiites have altered their route this year to include passage through some of the Sunni areas where there have been continual problems in recent years, and he adds:
But some of these areas surprised everyone, and set up, on the model of the Shiite areas, "tent and pavillion" areas offering water and drinks to the visitors, for instance in the Sunni Askan neighborhood in the Dora district, which was until a few months ago under the control of AlQaeda.

Salem al-Ani, one of those who organized this Sunni assistance center for the visitors, said: "The relative improvement in the security situation has given us the opportunity to offer our brothers help on their journey, and to make them feel that our area does not represent any danger to anyone".

The organizers of the "Sunni welcome center" said they hope to contribute to an easing of sectarian tensions between different residential areas in southern Baghdad, and a restoration of social relationships to those of the earlier times, and "a removal of the obstacles that have blocked roads and made neighborhoods in the capital very difficult".


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