The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan met last week at the Islamic House of Wisdom to discuss recent acts of vandalism against Iraqi Shiite properties in Metro Detroit.

There is no basis for Shiite and Sunni animosity anywhere, certainly not in the United States. While each school of thought in Islam has its special qualities and reflects cultural diversity, Shiites and Sunnis have a common belief system.

Unfortunately, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, not minor religious differences, has raised tensions whose flames have already hit some other homes worldwide.

President Bush decided to ignore months of hard work by James Baker’s Iraqi Study Group and opposed the group’s recommendation of starting U.S. troop withdrawal and engaging Iran and Syria in a broad dialogue with other Iraq neighbors.

If Bush is interested in being a peace president, he could invite Iraq’s six close neighbors — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Turkey and Iran — to talks that would save Iraq from its daily hell.

If oil, arms and Halliburton are more important than the lives of our troops and innocent Iraqis, the civil war will escalate. Interestingly, the president’s main allies — Saudi, Egypt and Jordan’s rulers, who are scared of al-Qaida terrorist attacks — love to get rid of al-Qaida operatives by exporting them to Iraq.

The Shiite and Sunnis of Iraq were united in state-building and ending British colonial rule, although the Shiites led the independence movement of 1920 and suffered the most from the brutalities and repression of Saddam Hussein and his evil Baath Party in more than 30 years of rule.


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