Sistani Calls On Iraqis To Turn In

Sistani Calls on Iraqis to Turn in Terrorists
Sadrists Call for Sunnis to Fight Zarqawi

Al-Zaman/ AFP report that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shiite spiritual leader, called Friday on his supporters to aid the authorities in combatting the perpetrators of violence, according to the members of a delegation that met with him. According to their statements, Sistani said, “Most Iraqis, and in particular the Shiites, face great hardships and numerous problems. It is necessary that they consult experts, and especially the learned. They must beware of enemies. Our enemies have multiplied, even though the Shiites, who follow the family of the Prophet, do not attack others. But their enemies, because of their political weakness, wreak murder and destruction.” He added, “Here, we bear the responsibility to direct the people to help the state and prevent terrorism, and curb them and eliminate them, even if only by informing on them.” He continued, “The Shiites, from the political and social point of view–even in the West–have come to be characterized by an absence of violence and refraining from infringing against the rights of others. The clerics of Najaf play a role in this excellent molding of character.”

Sistani said, “It is a shame for Iraqi blood to be shed by other Iraqis.” He concluded that ignorant inciters to violence attempt to spread anarchy [by promoting sectarian hatred] “even though it is useless to them and to the Iraqis, given that they believe in a single religious belief, pray toward a single point of adoration [Mecca], and share in common much among them.”

Meanwhile, al-Hayat reports [Ar.] that Shaikh Hazim al-A’raji praised the people of Ramadi in his Friday prayers sermon at the mosque attached to the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim . Al-A`raji, a follower of Muqtada al-Sadr, said that “our people” were standing against terrorism and the Zarqawi group. (For a Shiite preacher to refer to Sunni Arabs of Ramadi as “our people” is a deliberate appeal to pan-Islam, similar to that of Sistani.) He said, “The tribes in those regions have formed popular committes to struggle against Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in the area.” On 19 January, the US military had announced fighting between Iraqi rebels in Ramadi and foreign fighters. Al-Hayat says that the Iraqi government hopes to make what happened in Ramadi a model for other provinces.

[Cole: Baghdad is surrounded and much of it is in the hands of the guerrillas, and they are starving it effectively of fuel and electricity, which doesn’t sound to me like all this amazing progress is being made, as trumpeted by al-Hayat. Guerrillas launched a significat attack at Ramadi only a few days ago,which was repelled with US help.]

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