Sistani Stresses Unity over Sectarianism

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Sistani Stresses Need for Unity over Sectarianism in Battle for Iraq

As the security situation in Iraq has been severely deteriorating, news was posted on June 13 claiming that Shiite cleric Ali Sistani has issued a call to arms to confront the Sunni rebellion in the west and north of Iraq. Yet these reports are unfounded, and contradict the nationalist, humanitarian, and nonsectarian principles adopted by Sistani.

Sistani has only issued one official statement regarding the recent incidents; it was posted on June 11 on his official website.

[Sistani] is following up on the recent security developments in the provinces of Ninevah and surrounding areas with great concern. He stresses the need for the Iraqi government and the rest of the political leadership to unify their rhetoric and join efforts to face the terrorists and protect the citizens from these evil acts, and to reiterate its support for the people in the armed forces and encourages them to be patient and determined in the face of the aggressors,” the statement read.

On June 13 during the Friday sermon, preachers encouraged those capable to take up arms and volunteer with security forces to fight terrorism.

Sheikh Abdel Mahdi Karbalai, the official spokesman for Sistani, was one of these preachers.

Karbalai, however, did not mention anything related to jihad and did not call on Shiites to fight Sunnis.

He instead said that “everyone needs to get prepared morally and physically to confront the enemies.”

Al-Monitor contacted a prominent figure in Sistani’s office to verify statements that local and international websites attributed to him. The figure said the news was inaccurate, and clarified Sistani's stance:

First, we called on those who are able to take up arms to volunteer, provided that they do so under the auspices of security agencies, and only in a legal way.

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