While Iraqi pols debate the role of Islam in the new government, Al-Qaeda adds is own unique contribution to the debate. “New Purported Video From Al Qaeda in Iraq,” from AP, :
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Al Qaeda in Iraq released a video Sunday claiming to show the murder of an Interior Ministry official, and the debate raged about religion’s place in Iraq’s much-anticipated new government as lawmakers were summoned to their second-ever session.
Supporters of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi criticized the involvement of the religious authority in politics, while Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance, defended the role of the clergy.
“As long as we’re alive and as long as Iraq and the believers are there, we will continue to work according to the directions and the advice of the religious authority,” al-Hakim told the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra TV station, according to a transcript provided by his office. “The religious authority does not want to intervene in the details. It just gives direction when it thinks it will be beneficial.”
Secular-minded politicians have expressed concern about the influence of religion in the National Assembly. In a letter to the United Iraqi Alliance, politicians who ran under an Allawi coalition warned against allowing religion to play a greater role in Iraq’s government, saying it could “lead to instability in the relations between political forces in the Iraqi arena.”
That could be the understatement of the decade.
Shiite leaders have repeatedly denied they are seeking an Islamic state, saying they plan to include Kurdish and Sunni Arabs in the government.
After meeting Sunday with Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, said al-Sistani told him he did not intend to involve himself in any political process, except for expressing his opinion in times of crises. The alliance, which won 140 of the 275 seats in the assembly, came together under al-Sistani’s guidance.
Yes, al-Sistani actually brought himself to meet with a UN envoy. Of course, it helped that that envoy was a male Muslim.