First Published: 2004-11-26

Sunni, Shiite imams condemn Baghdad mosque raid

Imams unanimous in condemning deadly raid on Abu Hanifa mosque, Ulema council calls for boycott of January polls.


Middle East Online

Unanimous condemnation

Imams condemn deadly raid of Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdads Adhamiya neighbourhood in Friday sermons.

BAGHDAD - Sunni and Shiite Muslim imams in Iraq avoided the divisive issue of elections in their Friday sermons, but were unanimous in condemning a deadly raid on a revered mosque in Baghdad last week.

"Our mosque suffered a raid last week which was carried out based on erroneous information," Sheikh Moayed al-Adhami, the imam of the Abu Hanifa mosque, which lies in a Sunni bastion of the capital.

"Oppression leaves an even more bitter taste when it is perpetrated by those who are close to us than by foreigners," he said, in reference to the fact that Iraqi national guardsmen conducted the search.

Clashes that left two people dead and nine wounded broke out last Friday when they raided the mosque in the Adhamiya neighbourhood.

Speaking in the same mosque Friday, the head of the Sunni Waqf - or religious endowment - demanded guarantees that mosques would "never again be desecrated" by Iraqi or foreign troops.

Moqtada Sadr, the firebrand Shiite leader who spearheaded a bloody rebellion against the US occupation which culminated in the siege of Najaf's Imam Ali mausoleum, also condemned the raid on a site he said was holy to all Muslims.

Sheikh Abdel Hadi Karbalai, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani - the highest Shiite authority in Iraq - joined the chorus during his sermon in the holy city of Karbala.

The Council of Muslim Scholars, the highest Sunni authority in Iraq, accused the US military of plotting the Abu Hanifa raid during a sermon delivered in Baghdad by Sheikh Abdel Ghafur al-Samarrai.

The organisation - also known as the Ulema council - has called for a boycott of the January 30 polls, the country's first multi-party elections in half a century.


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