A terrorist bomb blast destroyed the dome of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, a religious site sacred to all Shiite Muslims. The mosque holds the remains of some descendants of the Prophet Muhammad and was built in the ninth century. The gold dome was completed in 1904.
Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, told a reporter, "Anti-democratic forces have tried everything to push the country into a civil war and sectarian violence." He says, "This is the biggest challenge we, as Iraqis face, and efforts are under way to prevent it." U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli calls the Samarra bombing "a horrific act of terror":
"I think it should sicken people of all faiths, whatever your faith, that a site so sacred can be attacked so wantonly and so savagely and it goes to the fundamental beliefs of people. It's just, it's unspeakable."
Mr. Ereli says that foreign terrorists "have for some time been seeking to divide Iraqis." But, he says, "The great majority of Iraqis have been working to build a nation of compromise, of understanding , [and] of dialogue":
"We've seen that process play out over the course of debates – in the writing of the constitution, the referendum of their constitution, elections for a permanent government [and] the process of government formation. And throughout this process you have those seeking to divide Iraqis and this [bombing in Samarra], I think is another example of that. . . .And that's why it's so important that we all speak with one voice in rejecting it and rejecting what the enemies of Iraq and the enemies of the Iraqi people are trying to do."
In a written statement, President George W. Bush asks "all Iraqis to exercise restraint in the wake of this tragedy, and to pursue justice in accordance with the laws and constitution of Iraq. Violence," he says, "will only contribute to what the terrorists sought to achieve by this act."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.