Headlines like this in the Washington Post shock us in civilized Western societies. 100 dead in 24 hours in Baghdad; scores of bodies turning up at morgues, tortured, decapitated, with notes that say “this is how all Sunnis will end up” etc. And yet, we don’t know our own history in the West: it took a Thirty Years War, ostensibly fought because of sectarian differences between Catholics (Sunnis) and Protestants (Shia), in which a number of nations participated (with religion, apparently, as the pretext for territorial gain and political control), that took place on German soil and decimated the population of Germany, killing approximately 25% of the population in the process, before an even shaky equilibrium or peace was possible between Catholics and Protestants in the West. Should we be surprised at 100 dead bodies a day resulting from sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites? Should we not more appropriately be bracing ourselves for their Thirty Years War? Can we expect them to learn from our mistakes? I have my doubts.
Sunnis and Shiites