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Is Samarra the key to reducing sectarian tension in Iraq?

The Sunni-majority city of Samarra has always been a scene of sectarian tension, as the situation has recently escalated with accusations that Shiites are seeking to change the city’s demography.
A member of the Iraqi security forces walks past a destroyed vehicle belonging to Islamic State militants during an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Samarra December 14, 2014. Picture taken December 14, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY) - RTR4I0GG
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The Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions in the city of Samarra are back on the front burner. Sunni politicians, clerics and a number of individuals have been hurling accusations on social media sites and in various newspapers at some government officials, accusing them of attempting to turn Sunni cities — which are home to the shrine of the 11th and 12th Imams in Twelver Shiite Islam — into Shiite towns.

The Samarra district is located to the east of the Tigris River, in Salahuddin governorate, 160 kilometers (99 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad. The city is of great historical value, as it was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate during the 19th century. It is famous for the Great Mosque of Samarra and its minaret, the Malwiya Tower. Moreover, the Sunni-majority city is home to the shrine of Imams Ali al-Haid and Hasan al-Askari, who are the 11th and 12th Imams of Twelver Shiite Islam.

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