BAGHDAD—A coalition of sectarian leaders from the approximately 185 separate political and insurgent groups vying for dominance in Iraq called for a nationwide moment of violence, to be held shortly before noon Friday in the remaining days of Ramadan.
"All of us fighting for control of this land, whether Baathists, Sunni militants, al-Qaeda sympathizers, al-Sadrites, or just plain street criminals, have one thing in common," read a statement released Monday by the ad-hoc group. "We all share a deep abiding commitment to the indiscriminate use of murder, mayhem, and massacre as a means of achieving our various ends."
"Therefore," the statement continued, "this Ramadan, we shall take time to see past the things that separate us, and celebrate, together, a moment of horrifying brutality for the citizens of Iraq."
According to Monday's statement, leaders deemed Ramadan—the holiest month of the Muslim calendar, in which fasting, prayer, acts of charity, and most importantly, rigorous self-examination and purification are required of the devout—"the perfect time to put others first, whether in the path of an SA-7 anti-aircraft rocket or the blast radius of an improvised explosive device."
Though attendance is voluntary, organizers have strongly encouraged all Iraqi Muslims to participate. Several marketplaces and mosques throughout the country have announced extended hours on Friday, Eid al-Fitr, the Festival Of Fast-Breaking, in anticipation of the activity the moment of violence will bring.
Organizers, such as Sheikh Yusef al-Karim, leader of the small Islamist faction Righteous Blade Of Allah, hope that the moment of violence will allow Iraqis an opportunity for meditative and reflective stabbing, beating, or shooting of their brethren.
"In this time of great chaos, rare is the chance for individuals to look deep into their hearts and ask themselves the truly important questions about who they want to kill," said al-Karim, whose group has claimed responsibility for the beheadings of 10 foreign workers in the last six months. "This is when we all should put aside worldly concerns, and remember that what is truly important: harming others."
Militant Iraqis confessing a weariness with relentless violence also hoped the moment of violence would renew their commitment to violence.
"I took the time to really do some good killing in Basra last year, and it definitely helped me rejuvenate and refocus," said one Shi'ite assassin, who wished to remain nameless due to several ongoing manhunts led by coalition forces. "But really, with proper concentration, anyone can achieve that same oneness and serenity in the time it takes to tie a person to a radiator in a foul-smelling, windowless room and torture him."
Rival Sunni separatist Omar Muhammed Bakr agreed.
"In this month of fasting and prayer, we should ponder the mutual rage, hatred, and bloodlust we all share," Bakr said. "This Ramadan, let us all take the time for a moment of quiet conflagration, a moment to turn to your neighbor, look him in his infidel eyes, and send him to hell in a burst of gunfire."
In response to the announcement, Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pledged a deployment of an additional 3,500 U.S. troops to join in the special ceremonial hostilities, as a show of solidarity with the Iraqi cause.
"When the moment comes, we will be there right beside the Iraqis with rockets, armored convoys, and possibly even a new air campaign to commemorate this historic event," Rumsfeld said. "This is about all of us."
Organizers did voice private concerns, however, that outside insurgents could disrupt the sanctity of their unified national moment by launching rocket attacks, staging executions, or setting off car bombs throughout the country.