Situation Grim With Religious Violence in Iraq.--

In his Thursday post, the Iraqi blogger, Iraq the Model, reports tense and worrisome developments and news reports. According to unconfirmed reports by factions in Iraq, more than 120 mosques have been attacked, burned, or blown up.

Spokesmen of the Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars claim more than 120 mosques have been blown up, set ablaze or came under small arms and RPG fire including the Um al-Qura mosque which is the HQ of the Association of Muslim Scholars which came under several drive-by shootings.

Radio Sawa reported a short while ago that the central morgue in Baghdad received some 80 bodies of people who were killed with gun shots since Wednesday afternoon.

In our neighborhood the Sadr militias seized the local mosque and broadcast Shia religious mourning songs from the mosques loudspeakers. In several other cases, worshippers were turned away by "gunmen in black" who surrounded the closed mosques. Other mosques are encircled by razor-wire to stop anyone from approaching them.

The sense in the streets and the statements given by some Shia clerics suggest that retaliation attacks are organized and under control and are focusing on mosques frequented by Salafi and Wahabi groups and not those of ordinary Sunnis.

Iraq the Model's late Wednesday afternoon post was, if anything, even more harrowing:

-President Talabani promises to make rebuilding the shrine his personal responsibility and to donate the required money from his own.

-Head of the Sunni endowment sheikh Ahmed al-Samarra'I announces that he will allocate 2 billion dinars (~1.4 million $) for the rebuilding of the shrine from the treasury of the Sunni endowment.

-Huge demonstrations in many of Iraq's provinces including Samarra and Mosul where thousands of people condemned the attack.

-The top 4 Shia Ayatollahs hold a meeting at Sistani's home to discuss the situation.

-The Association of Muslim scholars and the Islamic Party condemn the "criminal act".

-Retaliatory attacks on reportedly 29 Sunni mosques and the Accord Front warns from the consequences of such violent reactions.

-Jafari in a press conference calls for national unity and the leaders of the UIA hold a meeting. A press release is expected to come soon.

-The Iraqi TV opened the phone lines to receive the reactions of the audience to the attack and hosts Sunni clerics and politicians in an attempt to relieve the tension.

-Baghdad is in undeclared emergency situation, shops closed and streets nearly empty.

-Tight security around the shrine of Abu Haneefa in Aazamiya district of Baghdad, this is considered the top shrine/mosque for Sunni Muslims in Iraq.

-Masked gunmen attack Shia protestors in at least one neighborhood in western Baghdad and armed clashes in Ghazaliya and Hay al-A'amil.

One Pakistani cleric has said the the same forces who published the cartoons are behind the original bombing (tip to Tim Blair):

Allama Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi, said that the explosion in the shrine was carried out by the same people who supported the derogatory cartoons published in European newspapers.

"The strike is a continuation of the blasphemy on the holy family members of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and a ploy to divert the attention of the Muslim world from the imperialist forces’ diabolical designs against Islam."

This situation is bad enough, but if the attempts to blame the U.S. or the West succeed, things could get even worse.