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Iraqi secularists under attack ahead of elections

A religious leader with ties to the Islamic Dawa Party has issued a fatwa banning citizens from voting for secular candidates, as religious currents increasingly claim secular movements are tainted by links to the old regime of Saddam Hussein.
Iraqi secular Sunni politician Mithal al-Alusi speaks during an election campaign rally ahead of March 7 parliamentary elections in Baghdad February 27, 2010.  REUTERS/Saad Shalash (IRAQ - Tags: ELECTIONS POLITICS) - RTR2AZUB
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Kadhem al-Haeri, a cleric who has close ties with the Islamic Dawa Party and the Iranian regime, issued a fatwa March 30 banning the election of secular candidates in the upcoming elections. Large banners were hung in many areas of Baghdad and included a picture of the marja (spiritual guide) and the signature of the party’s office. The banners read: “It is forbidden to elect secular candidates.” The banners, hung late in March, are still present in some areas in Baghdad.

This fatwa has come in tandem with a media attack by ruling Islamic parties against the secular movement. The official media outlets of these parties are constantly instilling fear among the people regarding the “dangerous agendas” of secular candidates, claiming they have links to foreign parties and ties with the former regime.

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