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Stabroek News

Sunni and Shi'ite clerics reach deal to ease tension
published: Sunday | February 26, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP):

SUNNI AND Shi'ite clerics agreed yesterday to prohibit killing members of the two sects and banning attacks on each other's mosques in an effort to ease tension between Iraq's Muslim communities following sectarian violence after the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine.

The agreement was made during a meeting between representatives of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Shi'ite religious leader Jawad al-Khalisi and members of the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars at the Abu Hanifa Mosque, a Sunni place of worship.

SECTARIAN VIOLENCE

The agreement followed sectarian violence that left more than 150 people dead since Wednesday's explosion that damaged a Shi'ite holy shrine in the central city of Samarra. Dozens of Sunni mosques were attacked after that.

A statement read by association member Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi condemned attacks on holy places and "those who tried through the media to incite sectarian strife and civil war."

The clerics also agreed to prohibit killings of Sunnis and Shi'ites as well as attacks on mosques and shrines.

REBUILDING REQUEST

They asked the Government to rebuild the damaged mosques and compensate those who were harmed.

The meeting was attended by Baghdad's army commanders Maj. Gen. Jawad Roumi Dayni and Brig. Gen. Jalil Khalaf.

Al-Sadr and al-Khalisi are Shi'ite clerics who have openly called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

In yesterday's statement, the groups blamed "occupiers for what is happening in Iraq whether it has to do with sectarian tension or terrorism."

"We demand that the occupiers leave or set a timetable for the withdrawal," the statement added.

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