Muqtada thanks Iran, Syria;
Sumayd’i Criticizes Emergency Law as Undemocratic
az-Zaman: Muqtada al-Sadr expressed his gratitude Friday to Iranian President Muhammad Khatami and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad for rejecting foreign presence in Iraq. He also criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, in his Friday sermon, read for him at the Kufa mosque by Shaikh Jabir al-Khafaji. He said, “For these multinational forces to remain means instability in the entire world, not just in Iraq.”
The New York Times reports of Muqtada’s sermon and its criticisms of Allawi:
‘ At Friday Prayer on July 9 in Kufa, Najaf’s twin city, a statement delivered on behalf of Mr. Sadr characterized the Allawi government as having been “installed by the occupier” and issued this defiant warning, “Any attack to any member of the resistance, be it Sunni or Shia, will be considered an act of aggression against the entire Iraqi people.” ‘
He also called on the Jordanian government, according to ash-Sharq al-Awsat, to prevent the committee for the defense of Saddam Hussein from transiting its territory in order to come to Baghdad to defend the former Iraqi president. He warned Jordan that it had intervened in Iraqi affairs enough, and that it was quite enough that it had allowed terrorists to infiltrate into Iraq to spread chaos in the country. He called for Saddam to be executed before the Iraqi people.
A Sadr supporter, Shaikh Abdul Mahdi al-Daraji, said in his Friday sermon at the al-Hikmah Mosque in East Baghdad before hundreds of worshippers, “the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis is something superficial and formal . . . a close observer of events will see that the American patrols still penetrate Iraqi cities and enter areas of habitation. That means that the Occupation remains in place, and sovereignty is mere words on paper.”
Shiites from the al-Hikmah congregation in East Baghdad gathered for a rally after prayers, where they chanted for the execution of Saddam and chanted in support of Muqtada al-Sadr.
The Sunni Shaikh Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarra’i called in his sermon at the Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad on the Allawi government to “refuse to work to imprison the people or to strike at our people in Fallujah and Samarra.” He added that the Americans were prolonging their presence in Iraq on the pretext of “the Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.” He added, “A poor family has been completely wiped out in Fallujah for the sake of al-Zarqawi. That is enough. We should have true sovereignty or a mass resignation (of the government).”
Shaikh Mahdi al-Sumayd’i, the Sunni Imam of the Ibn Taymiyah Mosque in the center of Baghdad, criticized the newly announced Emergency Law, saying that it “contravenes and contradicts the democratic passages espoused by the peoples of the world.”
Plus, don’t miss Hannah Allam’s important profile of the radical Sunni Arab cleric Hareth al-Dhari, among the more important political and religious figures in contemporary Iraq. An excerpt:
‘ In a series of interviews with Knight Ridder in the past month, al Dhari said he’s not the insurgent mastermind his critics portray. He said he doesn’t finance insurgents or issue commands. He said he’s never met with foreign guerrillas, although he unabashedly supports Iraqis who take up arms against U.S.-led forces. His newspaper publishes flowery obituaries of fallen insurgents from Anbar province.
“The heroes are the ones fighting,” al Dhari said in his most recent interview. “I’m just an assistant.”
The cleric became a hero in Fallujah, the heart of the Anbar insurgency, for running aid convoys and ushering refugees to safety as U.S. Marines pounded the city during a siege in April.
The siege was the springboard for al Dhari’s newfound status as Sunni Islam’s loudest voice in Iraq. He issued a fatwa, or religious edict, ordering followers to boycott American and British products and preached fiery sermons.
“Fire on every traitor, and everyone who pushed towards occupying this country,” al Dhari said in April, condemning U.S.-appointed Iraqi leaders. “Woe to all of them … because of what they are doing against their people.”
Al Dhari’s scholarly background and rebellious spirit make him a Sunni combination of his two best-known Shiite counterparts, the venerated Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani and the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. His association is the umbrella group for more than 6,000 Sunni mosques, nearly 80 percent of that sect’s religious institutions in Iraq.
The sheik’s detractors say he must be stopped before he steers Iraq into an oppressive, Taliban-style regime. Supporters say he’s the only viable political hope for Sunnis, whose fortunes were reversed when Saddam Hussein fell.
“He represents the Sunni opposition voice in Iraq and this opposition is supported by outsiders who have no business here,” said Sheik Homam Hamoodi of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the dominant Shiite group.
So far, al Dhari has avoided arrests or raids. Some officials say he’s too useful as a conduit to guerrilla groups; others say U.S. actions against him would only make him a martyr and provoke more attacks. Al Dhari said he’s done nothing wrong. ‘