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Islamic parties intimidate, fear atheists in Iraq

Islamic parties in Iraq have intensified their rhetoric against atheists, with one prominent cleric calling for them to be confronted with an "iron fist."
Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), speaks during news conference with Iraqi Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani in Baghdad, Iraq, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily     - RTSQ39J
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NAJAF, Iraq — Iraq's Islamic movements and political parties have intensified their rhetoric in recent weeks against atheism, warning Iraqis about its spread and the need to confront atheists. Such movements and parties worry that public sentiment is turning against Islamic parties in politics and that this could be reflected in upcoming elections, scheduled for the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018.

In a lecture this month in Baghdad, Ammar al-Hakim — head of the mostly Shiite Iraqi National Alliance party, which holds the overwhelming political majority in parliament and government — warned against the prevalence of atheism.

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