Of the Saddam was a secularist so Osama bin Laden wouldn't have cooperated with him crowd (paging Bruce Moomaw):
LONDON — Internationally isolated and fearful of losing power, Saddam Hussein made an astonishing move in the last years of his secular rule: He invited into Iraq clerics who preached an austere form of Islam that's prevalent in Saudi Arabia.
He also let extremely religious Iraqis join his ruling Baath Socialist Party. Saddam's bid to win over devout Muslims planted the seeds of the insurgency behind some of the deadliest attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces today, say Saudi dissidents and U.S. officials.
"Saddam invited Muslim scholars and preachers to Iraq for his own survival," said Saad Fagih, a London-based Saudi dissident. "He convinced them that Shiites are the danger."
....Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi — or Salafi — brand of Sunni Islam began trickling into Iraq in the mid-1990s, at the height of punishing international sanctions for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. They came from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, including some returning Iraqis who adopted the Salafi ideology in exile.
A Wahhabi mosque was even built in the Shiite holy city of Karbala at a time when Shiites were banned from worshipping their religion freely. Signs of strict Islamic codes also began appearing, such as a growing number of women wearing veils.
The words "God is great" were added to the Iraqi flag after Saddam's defeat in the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf War. He closed bars and nightclubs to appease Muslims.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
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