• Echoes of history: Correspondent Charles Levinson went to a Shiite shrine in Baghdad last week to see the celebration of a little-known Shiite holiday. The holiday is called Eid al-Ghadir, named for the spot in 7th-century Arabia where the prophet Mohammad supposedly declared to the faithful that Ali, his son-in-law, was to be his rightful heir. This didn't happen: Ali was pushed aside and the Shiite-Sunni conflict was born.
"At the celebration at the Shiite shrine, a cleric gave a scathing speech in the mosque's courtyard," says Charles. "He lashed out at the first Muslim caliphs, the founding fathers of Islam in Sunni eyes, and usurpers of power in Shiite eyes. Though he couched his attacks in the context and vocabulary of early Islamic history, it was clear that he had much more contemporary targets in his metaphorical crosshairs."
Deputy world editor