Samarra mosque revival heals, ignites sectarianism

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The mosque at the heart of this ancient city, once a bombed-out epitaph for Iraq’s spiral into civil war, is now heralded as a symbol of its painstaking recovery, JACK HEALY and OMAR AL-JAWOSHY report for The New York Times.

Five years after an insurgent bombing partly destroyed the shrine and spawned waves of sectarian killings, its rebuilt concrete dome again hangs like a low moon over the city. Two new minarets are wrapped in a bird’s nest of scaffolding. And with violence down sharply here and across the country, throngs of pilgrims again pray at Samarra’s Askariya Shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam.

But in Iraq, even stories of revival are not so straightforward. And this one, which lies at the intersection of religion and real estate, has reawakened old suspicions and sectarian divisions in a town where the fighting never fully ended.

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