July 26th marks two very important dates, one in the past, and one in the future.
Way back in 657 CE, there was a major battle at Siffin on the upper Euphrates between Ali ibn Abi Talib (the prophet Muhammad's son-in-law) and Muawiyah I (a companion of Muhammad) over who would control the newly established Muslim Empire. The battled ended in what was supposed to be a peaceful arbitration, but in fact the terms have been one of the main causes of strife between Shia and Sunni Muslims until today. To Shia Muslims, Ali was the first of twelve Imams, God appointed leaders free from sin, and to the Sunni, Ali was merely the fourth Caliph (or government representative) of his dynasty, and Muawiyah was the first Caliph of the Ummayad dynasty, the one that built the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Ali was assassinated in 661, and then Muawiyah took over the empire. Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims have been fighting ever since.
Sadam Hussein knew about Sunni and Shia hatred and history. The architects of the US invastion of Iraq sadly did not.
Fast forward to 2008. This July 26th there will be an awesome spectacle of roller girls, burlesque dancers, and sadly by comparison, bloggers, to honor the life of Ashley Morris. It will be New Orleans with no holds barred. Hope to see you there.