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Sunni, Shiite scholars attempt to ease Iraqi political conflicts

As Iraq's sectarian conflicts have always exacerbated political strife, communication networks between Shiite and Sunni clerics are sorely needed.
Shi'ite people place copies of the Koran on their heads during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of Imam Ali at his shrine in the holy city of Najaf, about 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, July 30, 2013. Imam Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad, was wounded in the head during a battle and died after two days in 661 AD in Najaf. REUTERS/Ahmad Mousa (IRAQ - Tags: RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)     FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE ALSO SEE: GM1EA3R14QL01 - RTX124BU
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Iraq has a long history of conflict and rapprochement between Sunni and Shiite clerics, which has played a major role in the sectarian conflict or cohesion among the country’s sects. This factor, among with other political and social factors, has defined the historical conflict in Iraq. The main problem is that Sunni and Shiite clerics are unable to achieve a real rapprochement and establish a network of communication that can be used to reach a solution or alleviate tensions. Instead, they have fueled the conflict in many instances due to the lack of formal communication.

Researchers can find many types of communication in the history of Shiite and Sunni clerics in Iraq. For instance, Shiite clerics have been taught by Sunni teachers and vice versa, and peaceful and calm discussion and dialogue councils have been established. However, friendly relations turned into conflict and enmity as soon as political complications set in between the two sects. What is joined by cultural relations can be separated by political disputes overnight. When political disputes come into play, they spark religious conflicts and make each party evil in the eyes of the other. Mutual accusations fly and all communication is cut off.

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