The Shi'ite Islamic community in Iraq is divided a week before the countrywide elections on April 30 with Grand Ayatollah's disputing what kind of candidate Iraqi Shiites should vote for.
Photo: (Left) Grand Ayatollah Kazem Haeri, (right) Moqtada Sadr
Asharq Al-Awsat informs us that an Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah in Iraq named Kazem Al-Haeri has recently issued a fatwa (religious decree) which forbids the election by Shiites of any "secular" candidate in this upcoming election.
Haeri used to be a member of the Dawa Party which is headed by the present Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, whose second term in office — which began in 2010 — is coming to an end. The Shi'ite parties that helped him win reelection back then — the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Sadrist Movement — are quite critical of his performance in the last three years, particularly whereby issues pertaining to security and stability in that volatile and unstable country are concerned.
Middle East Monitor has a useful and comprehensive overview of Maliki himself and the opponents he will be facing in the upcoming election.
His fatwa has stirred up considerable acrimony and controversy in Iraq with Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ismail Al-Sadr, another prominent Ayatollah in Iraq, criticizing the nature of the fatwa. He contends that Shiites aren't required to avoid voting for a secular candidate and are only required to possess "patriotism, integrity and competence," when it comes to who they vote for.
He issued a statement whereby he insists that,
"Religion should not be a condition for election. Perhaps a candidate of a different religion from that of the voter may be fitter than a candidate of the same religion. Doctrine is a personal issue related to individuals' convictions and does not necessarily indicates ones' competence, patriotism or integrity."
The highest-ranking Shi'ite cleric in the Shi'ite majority country, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has avoided giving anything other than broad advice to his followers when it comes to who they should give their vote to. As al-Monitor reported the other day he has simply advised Iraqi voters to "choose wisely" when they go to vote.
Mr. Maliki recently traveled to the sacred Shi'ite Iraqi city of Najaf on April 10 where he trumpeted up sectarian rhetoric as part of his reelection campaign. He wanted to meet with Sistani but Sistani turned down the invitation.
Source: Digital Journal
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