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Iraqi Sunnis Slam Shiite Shrine Terrorist Attack

IslamOnline.net

SAMARRA, Iraq, February 22, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) ľ Iraqi Sunnis denounced the terrorist blast that rocked a celebrated Shiite shrine in northern Iraq as thousands of Shiites took to the streets across Iraq to protest the bombing.

"This is a terrorist act that is aimed to fan a sectarian strife among the Iraqis," said Sheikh Ahmed Daye, member of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, according to the Doha-based Al-Jazeera Web site Wednesday, February 22.

A powerful explosion destroyed the golden dome of Imam Ali Al-Hadi shrine, one of Iraq's most famous Shiite religious places, in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra.

"A group of armed men attacked the mausoleum of Imam Ali Al-Hadi at 7:00 a.m. (0400 GMT), neutralized the policemen guarding the building before placing two explosives charges and blowing them up," police said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the attack, but there are fears that people may have been trapped in the rubble.

Grisly Act

The Islamic Party in Iraq also denounced the blast.

"The party strongly denounces this grisly act," Tariq Al-Hashimi, the party's secretary general, told a press conference Wednesday.

"We urge an independent inquiry by neutral parties into this act which meant to fan a devastating sectarian strife in the country," he said, calling on the Iraqis to protest the bombing.

The Sunni figure also called on the Iraqi government to intervene to rebuild the Shiite holy place.

Hashimi urged the Iraqi people to rally ranks and observe unity, blasting attacks against Sunni mosques in the wake of the attack on the Shiite holy place.

The Sunni Endowment Authority also denounced the attack against the Shiite religious place and called for calm.

The head of the religious body, Ahmed Abdel Ghaffur Al-Samarrai, said the attack was a criminal act, urging to bring perpetrators to justice.

Mourning

On Wednesday, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani urged Iraqis to take to the streets to protest the attack, calling for a week-long period of mourning.

But Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari announced three days of national mourning over the bombing.

"I proclaim three days of national mourning in the country following this hurtful attack," Jaafari said.

The Shiite shrine contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th imams, Ali Al-Hadi, who died in 868 A.D., and his son Hassan Al-Askari, who died in 874 A.D.

Tradition says the shrine, which draws Shiite pilgrims from around the world, is near the place where the last of the 12 Shiite imams, Muhammad Al-Mahdi, disappeared.

Shiites believe he is still alive and will return to restore justice to humanity.

The shrine's golden dome was completed in 1905.

Odious Attack


Shiite scholar Grand Ayatollah Bashir Al-Najafi said the attack was "an odious attack on the heart of Islam and of Iraq and an attempt to stir up sectarianism, his son, Ali Bashir, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Wednesday's bombing sparked massive protests across the war-torn country.

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Wednesday in Samarra to protest the bombings.

Tens of thousands also protested the blast in the capital Baghdad and the holy Shiite city of Karbala, in southern Iraq.

"This criminal act aims at igniting civil strife," said Mahmoud Al-Samarie, 28-year-old builder who was among the crowd in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood.

"We demand an investigation so that the criminals who did this be punished. If the government fails to do so, then we will take arm and chase the people behind this attack."

Shops closed and muezzins recited prayers from the loudspeakers of nearby mosques and blamed the United States for the turmoil, saying "God is Great, death to America which brought us terrorism."

The attack on the shrine came a day after a car bomb killed at least 21 in a mainly Shiite market of Baghdad.


:: Article nr. 20905 sent on 23-feb-2006 03:26 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=20905

Link: www.islamonline.org/English/News/2006-02/22/article02.shtml



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