A “religious revival,” as well as a new burst of religious freedom for Muslims, is growing in Iraq, according to the Washington Post (April 5).
Under orders from Sadam Hussein, the long-time secular country has rescinded restrictions against Shiite Islam, the sect accounting for the majority of Muslims in the nation in order to build morale and discourage unrest. The public revival of Islam first emerged in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War in 1990 when Iraq attempted to forge new links with Muslim nations for support. The difficult times and uncertainty since the war has only intensified religious devotion and state endorsement of Islam.
The government is placing an emphasis on Islamic symbols (with Hussein spending large amounts for maintenance of Holy sites). Both Sunni and Shiite mosque and church attendance has risen as a result of what an ambassador calls a “kind of group therapy” to relieve despair.
It has been in the last six months that the curbs on religious liberty have been lifted, serving as a kind of “moral immunization drive,” says one Shiite intellectual.