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Thursday, March 16, 2006

U.S. Troop Increase in Iraq During
Shi'ite Holiday Pilgrimage Surge
As reported in today's New York Times and elsewhere, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave a strong hint that American troop levels in Iraq might be increased in coming days to help protect a surge of Shi'ite pilgrims expected to visit Muslim shrines in coming weeks. The holiday pilgrimages are to holy sites in Najaf and Kerbala, predominantly Shiite areas where the potential for sectarian violence would be of great concern.

Two recent releases provide crucial background information about Shi'ite muslims: their beliefs (including holidays) and motivations. SHI'ISM travels across Iran, Lebanon and Iraq a cross-section of major contemporary Shiite figures discuss and debate the history, theology and values of this minority branch of Islam. In THE ROAD TO KERBALA filmmaker Katia Jarjoura joins pilgrims on the 100-kilometer walk from Baghdad to Kerbala.

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