Iraqi clerics on July 28th signed “Social Peace in Iraq,” a government-sponsored document, which would criminalise those who promote sectarian division, officials told Mawtani.
A group of 54 Sunni and Shia clerics signed the document following an iftar at the Iraqi presidency office that brought together representatives of religious authorities accredited in Iraq, Vice President Khudhair al-Khuzaie told Mawtani.
All parties reaffirmed their commitment to national unity, opening channels for dialogue among political parties, and refusing to engage in defamation and attacks through the media, he said.
The document stresses the need to “stand firm against those who foment violence and sectarianism, and criminalises all the terrorist activities practiced by the enemies of Iraq”, al-Khuzaie said.
The document “will be officially recognised at a general conference of Iraqi religious leaders to be held in Mecca during the next Hajj season”, he added.
Al-Khuzaie said the document comes in response to al-Qaeda’s attacks and efforts to break up Iraq, socially, geographically and economically.
“Additionally, we at this time, are in need of easing the situation through having notable religious leaders sign this document, which would be binding to all parties,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq said choosing to endorse the document in Mecca is significant because the holy city symbolises the unity of Muslims of all sects.
The government has started official preparations for the conference, which will be held in Mecca during the next Hajj season at the request of the office of the presidency, alongside the Shia and Sunni endowment offices in Iraq, he told Mawtani.
Khaled al-Mulla, advisor at the presidency office for religious affairs said the document is a translation of the resolutions adopted by the International Islamic Conference for Dialogue, held in Baghdad April 24th-25th.
Al-Mulla said the signatories are among the most prominent Sunni and Shia religious authorities in Iraq and have a large popular base of followers.
“There are also authorities and clerics from both sects who welcomed the document, and will add their signatures to it as well,” he said.
Al-Mulla said the most important paragraphs in the 10-chapter document are: “No sect shall have the right to describe the other as blasphemous, consider them an enemy, or allow for their bloodshed, looting of their property or violation of their honour . “
HOUSES OF WORSHIP ARE NOT TO BE VIOLATED
The document also criminalises incitement aimed at violating the rights of the two Muslim sects, and calls for all houses of worship to be respected: mosques, husseiniyas and churches. These are not to be attacked, used to harbour terrorists or as places where weapons can be stored, al-Mulla said.
The document further states that crimes committed against others based on sectarian or religious differences will be considered a type of terrorism and corruption of the land, offenses which call for steeper penalties against the perpetrators of those crimes, he added.
“Iraqis have no choice but to start dialogue, and sit at a round table to come out with one common destiny that groups all Iraqis under the same, stable, secure tent,” Sunni Fatwa Commission chairman Sheikh Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, one of the signatories, told Mawtani.
“The document is considered a roadmap for Iraq, in all its components, and a way for peaceful co-existence, as well as a formidable front against sectarianism and its promoters, prejudices, fanaticism, the merchants of blood and the hired killers and thugs , “said Sheikh Hussein al-Musawi, Sayyid Ali al-Sistani’s representative in Baghdad.