Iraqi Land Endowments Stopped To Prevent Sectarian Strife

Article Summary
Following a string of violence, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki banned religious endowments from owning land, writes Jawdat Kathem. After the al-Asqari Mosque dispute between Sunni and Shiite clerics that ended with the detonation of a lethal car bomb in 2006, Maliki said the endowments should refer these disputes to the courts.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has put an end to land ownership rights by Sunni and Shiite endowments across all provinces. He suggested that they take their claims to the Federal Court "if they feel they were unfairly treated."

After meeting with Shiite Endowment head Saleh al-Haidari and Sunni Endowment head Ahmed Abdel Ghafour al-Sammaraie, Maliki stated that "mosques and cemeteries, both Sunni and Shiite, should remain as they are." He urged "all Iraqis to unite and reject sectarian divisions without falling into the traps that terrorist forces are creating once again." He praised the two heads of the Shiite and Sunni Endowments for their positions on the issue and "their understanding of these problematic developments."

The seat of the Shiite Endowment is located in Bab al-Moatham, an area of central Baghdad which was the target of a suicide car bombing that killed and wounded dozens of people. This occurred just days after the ownership of Al-Asqari Mosque in Samarra was transferred to the Shiite Endowment, an act which  Sunni clerics and tribal leaders have deemed "illegal."

During the meeting, Maliki stressed the need for calm and warned against the dangers of sectarian strife.

Haidari told Al-Hayat that "The meeting addressed a number of issues in order to pacify the atmosphere and stop the two parties from falling into a sectarian trap that terrorists and enemies of Iraq are trying to set."

He said that "some parties have once again tried to instigate sectarian strife and spread violence by bringing up sensitive issues, but they failed in these endeavors. Not all Iraqis fell for their tricks because they have already experienced such schemes and dealt with them."

"The dispute over the ownership of Al-Asqari Mosque has been completely resolved. The purified mosque has been annexed by the Shiite Endowment. As it was previously the property of the now dissolved Ministry of Endowments, the Shiite endowment did not violate any properties belonging to the Sunni Endowment. Thus, all malicious schemes have been disproven," he added.

He pointed out that "the recent attack on the Shiite Endowment headquarters killed 30 people and wounded 224 others. This was the result of propaganda used by terrorists to carry out a heinous crime that claimed the lives of innocent people."

Found in: sunni, shiite, sectarianism, sectarian tension, sectarian, nouri al-maliki, iraqi politics, iraq, car bomb

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