Gulf States Impressed With Security & Progress in Central Iraq

Millions of Shiite pilgrims gathered in central Iraq this month for the largest celebration in decades of Arbaeen, the Shiite ritual commemorating the killing of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, in A.D. 680.
International Herald

Millions of Pilgrims gathered near the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 7, 2007. Shiite pilgrims converged on Karbala for the weekend marking of Arbaeen, the end of the forty-day mourning period after the date of the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, killed in Karbala in 680 A.D. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

The following is a Haider Ajina translation of an article in Iraq’s Alsabah Aljadeed (New Sabah) on March 20, 2007:

Visitors to Najaf from the Gulf States express their contentment with the stability and security of the city.

Pilgrimages from the Gulf States came to Nejaf commemorating the death of the prophet Mohamed (PBOH). They also visited the Holy shrines in the area. These visitors represent an exploratory group, which return home to the Gulf States to report on the situation in Nejaf. Alsabah Aljadeed interviewed a number of them.

During the interview, they expressed their pleasure and happiness in visiting the holy sights and the calm in Nejaf & Karbala. They pointed out that they have not been able to visit these sights for long years, in the past decade and a half due to the political situation.

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein from Bahrain expressed his strong pleasure in the hospitality and welcome he received during his visit. He hopes that peace can spread all over Iraq, calling on Iraqis to unite and stand together.

Abdul Kariem Jaber from Kuwait expressed his satisfaction in the calm and security all over the city. He expressed his gratitude to the security agencies, which provided for this calm and comfortable atmosphere for this large number of visitors. When asked about his accommodations during his stay he affirmed that his colleagues and he saw and experienced the welcome and hospitality clearly. He also wished Iraqis progress, prosperity, and to be free of terrorism. I will relay a picture of what I saw and experienced in Nejaf and Karbala to Kuwaitis back home, who wish to visit the holy sights.

A visitor from Saudi Arabia also praised the security agencies in the cities and was grateful to the generous hospitality and care he received from the locals, and government officials.

Mr. Abdul Hussein Sultan from Oman expressed his contentment in the calm and security he saw in Nejaf, this is opposite of what the press is reporting about, violence, and killing in this country. Iraq deserves all the affluence and to its people dignity and progress. He pointed out the improvement in infra structure and building as well as public services available to the locals. Nejaf is quite different from two years ago when I first visited.

All the visitors interviewed by Alsabah Aljadeed said they will convey to their people at home, the truth about the conditions in Iraq in general and Nejaf in particular. They will also encourage visitors to come visit.

Employees in the tourism and hospitality businesses said that visitors from the Gulf states expressed a strong desire, amongst the ones back home in the Gulf states, to visit the holy sights. This religious tourism and the increase of it will be a strong boost to the local economy.

3 to 7 million pilgrims traveled to Karbala in central Iraq earlier this month for a Shiite celebration that took place without violence.

Shiite pilgrims pour into the Iraqi holy city of Karbala at the start of the two-day festival of Arbaeen, which marks the 40th day after the anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein in the year 680. (AFP)

Haider Ajina comments:

These interviews with non Iraqi Arabs are very revealing. These visitors understand the Iraqi culture, speak the same language, share the same religion, and most likely are Shiites but not necessarily. They thus have a much closer view of the situation around them, than foreign correspondents. They need no translator and tend to integrate well into the local population. They can easily visit the cafes and restaurants and are able to listen and understand the local’s conversations.

These visitors are the perfect gauges of the situation. At home, these visitors from the Gulf States (the Persian Gulf just south of Iraq), live in very safe, secure, opulent, and comfortable environments. If they describe Nejaf & Karbala, and the other areas they visited, as calm, secure and hospitable then it is deffinatly is very much so. Their standards for relevance are very high. These visitors before they came must have thought they were taking their lives in their hand when they decided to travel to Iraq. They must have put their faith in God to protect them. Only to come to Iraq and realize that the situation in the areas they visited is nothing like the media is describing. Indeed, it is the opposite of the violence and mayhem the Arab & foreign media is describing Iraq. The situation, in the areas they visited, is calm, secure and hospitable with public amenities readily available and markets full of goods.

Why is so much of media covering mostly negative news in Iraq? There is so much good news to cover. I spend 1-2 hours every day going through good news from Iraqi media to decide which piece to translate. That is how much good news there is, just from the Iraqi Arabic media. This does not include Iraqi Kurdish, Ashurian, Turkmen or Kaldian Media.

All this could not have happened had we not liberated Iraq, freed its people from tyranny and rid the world of a dangerous regime. It happened because we stayed to support this young democracy and we gave much in lives and riches to shore up this young democracy. Judging by the above interviews, our efforts and sacrifices are obviously not in vain.

Haider Ajina

(Do you suppose The New York Times and CNN will cover this story tomorrow?)

Millions of Shiites Gather for Historic Celebration in Karbala

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