Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunnis close Iraqi capital mosques in protest

Iraqi Sunni religious leaders said Saturday they closed the sect’s mosques in Baghdad indefinitely to protest attacks targeting clerics and worshippers, highlighting the country’s deepening sectarian rift. The closures came as violence across the country killed 10 people Saturday.

Sheik Mustafa al-Bayati, a member of a council of senior Sunni scholars that issue religious edicts, said the decision taken Thursday came into effect Saturday.

Many mosques appeared to comply. In Baghdad’s Sunni northern district of Azamiya, a banner at the closed gate of the hallowed Abu Hanifa mosque read: “The mosque is closed until further notice because of the targeting of imams, preachers and worshippers.”

The mosque closures were “prompted by the systematic targeting of and injustice against Sunni clerics, mosques and worshippers,” al-Bayati told The Associated Press. “Today, it is not forbidden to shed Sunni blood. ... For 11 months we have been saying peacefully that we are facing injustice but the government closes its ears.”

He didn’t accuse any group of being behind the attacks, but said “the weakness of the security forces is exploited by (Shiite) militias.” Read More ...