Abdul Hamid Confronted Over His

Abdul Hamid Confronted over his Allegation that the Shiites are a Minority

The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas reports that it had a further confrontation with Muhsin Abdul Hamid, leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party and February’s president of the Interim Governing council. Al-Qabas and other news sources reported recently that Abdul Hamid maintained that Shiites constituted less than 40% of Iraq’s population, i.e. that they are a minority. When Abdul Hamid visited Riyadh recently, he denied having made the statement. Actually, he denied having said that Sunni Iraqis would impose their will on Shiites because Sunnis are the majority.. On his return he stopped off in Kuwait and met with the press. Al-Qabas presented him with an audiotape cassette containing his statement that Shiites are a minority and challenged his allegation that he had been misquoted. (Al-Qabas had not in any case reported that he said Sunnis would impose their will on Shiites; that was some news service.) On the cassette, Abdul Hamid clearly says, “The Sunnis are the majority in Iraq.”

When confronted by Nasir al-`Utaybi, Abdul Hamid said, “The press sometimes corners us, but we are a single people, and give each other mutual aid, and we work together on the governing council and off it.”

He added that Iraq is erasing the past and building a new relationship of fraternity and good relations with its neighbors first of all.

He denied that the Iraqi Islamic Party has any relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood. “We are not responsible for their past positions, whether negative or positive.” He repeated his repudiation of the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

In fact, the Iraqi Islamic Party did begin as an Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, whatever its current relationship to the mother group in Cairo.

Social scientists estimate that Shiites are between 60 and 65 percent of the Iraqi population, but many Sunni Iraqis have trouble coming to terms with this social fact. Abdul Hamid is outgoing as president of the IGC as of March 1.