Iraq's Shiite, Sunni religious figures forbid Shiite-Sunni bloodletting in Mecca

Iraq's Shiite, Sunni religious figures forbid Shiite-Sunni bloodletting in Mecca
October 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraq's Shiite, Sunni religious figures forbid Shiite-Sunni bloodletting in Mecca

Iraq's Shiite, Sunni religious figures forbid Shiite-Sunni bloodletting in Mecca
Iraq's Shiite, Sunni religious figures forbid Shiite-Sunni bloodletting in Mecca meeting

Media: The Associated Press
Byline: n/a
Date: 20 October 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_In a bid to stop sectarian bloodshed, Shiite and Sunni
religious figures met in Mecca, Islam's holiest city, and issued a series of
edicts Friday forbidding violence between Iraq's two Muslim sects.

It is uncertain, however, whether the edicts, or fatwas, will find resonance
among the country's Sunni and Shiite militants whose tit-for-tat attacks
have created a deadly cycle of violence that gains momentum and brutality

Previous attempts to reconcile Iraq's rival sects have failed to stanch the

While Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq usually abide by fatwas issued or endorsed
by their top clerics, the sectarian violence is largely perpetuated by
militants who abide only by the strict interpretations of the Quran, Islam's
holy book, and Hadith, sayings of Islam's prophet Muhammad, offered by
similarly radical clerics outside Islam's mainstream.

However, the Mecca meeting had lowered expectations from the outset, with
its organizers maintaining that they did not seek a truce in Iraq, where a
Sunni insurgency continues to target U.S. and Iraqi forces, but only to stop
sectarian killings between rival Sunnis and Shiites.

The Mecca meeting was sponsored by the Saudi-based Organization of the
Islamic Conference, or OIC, and attended by OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin
Ihsanoglu of Turkey. The signing ceremony was carried live by Iraqi TV

Participants included senior Shiite and Sunni clerics, representatives of
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the top clerics in the Shiite holy city
of Najaf, the former leader of Iraq's largest Sunni party and a senior
official from the largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq.

A final communique, heavy on quotations from the Quran and Hadith, was
issued at the end of the two-day meeting and read by Ihsanoglu. It contained
10 points, the majority of which edicts forbidding kidnappings, incitement
of hatred, attacks on mosques and Shiite places of worship. It also forbade
forcing members of the other sect from their homes and called for the
release from detention of Iraqis not charged with specific crimes.

It also stated that differences between the two sects did not touch on the
basics of the faith.

"It is a declaration to everyone stating the position of religion on the
sins and crimes committed in Iraq," Ihsanoglu said in an address delivered
in Arabic.

Underlining the challenges facing any bid to end Iraq's violence and
lawlessness, a Sunni organzation reported in Baghdad within minutes of the
signing ceremony in Mecca that the son of one of the signatories, Mohsin
Abdul-Hamid, had been kidnapped Thursday night by gunmen at a checkpoint in
the Iraqi capital's western Iskan neighborhood.

Yasser Mohsin Abdul-Hamid is also the deputy head of the Sunni government
department that looks after Sunni mosques and seminaries.

None of the participants in the Mecca meeting was rated among the country's
top Muslim clerics, but spokesman Salah Abdul-Razaq, speaking to The
Associated Press from Mecca, said the fatwas were vetted and approved by
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's top Shiite cleric, and radical
anti-U.S. Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who is not a high ranking cleric
but runs the Mahdi Aarmy, a militia blamed for much of the violence against
Sunni Arabs.

At the end of the signing ceremony, a presenter read a message from
al-Sistani and other top Shiite clerics supporting the final communique. he
also read a letter of support from Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the grand
sheik of al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, Sunni Islam's top seat of learning.

The Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential hard-line Sunni group,
did not formally take part in the Mecca meeting, Abdul-Razaq said.

In an interview with the Saudi daily al-Watan, the association's leader,
Harith al-Dhari, said he did not expect the Mecca meeting to make a
difference on the ground.

"I don't will contribute to the narrowing of the gap (between
the Shiites and Sunnis) or reduce the suffering of the Iraqi people today,"
he said. "I am not optimistic." However, a message from al-Dhari read at the
end of the signing ceremony said the Mecca meeting was "a step in the right

The root of the current bout of Sunni-Shiite violence dates back to 2003,
when the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime ended decades of domination by
the minority Sunnis and empowering the long-oppressed Shiite majority.

The destruction of a major Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra north of
Baghdad last February ignited the worst bout of sectarian violence and the
bloodletting is little diminished.

Differences between the two sides were exacerbated when parliament adopted a
Shiite-backed law this week allowing provinces in the Shiite and oil-rich
south to establish an autonomous region like the Kurdish one in the north.
Sunni Arabs and some Shiites opposed the law, arguing that federalism would
lead to the eventual breakup of Iraq.
October 21st, 2006  
So they will unite against the infidel now?

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