June 23, 2003

Sistani--"Great Unease" Paul Bremer sure

Sistani--"Great Unease"


Paul Bremer sure has his hands full.

"Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the senior religious figure of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority and the community's most influential voice, has expressed "great unease" about the 10-week-old U.S. occupation and demanded that the United States allow Iraqis to rule themselves."

Remember Sistani may be the key moderate Shi'a cleric in helping the U.S. achieve critical goals regarding the future of the Iraqi polity. Why? Because of his seniority and because he doesn't want to establish a theocracy:

"In a move welcomed by U.S. authorities, and in clear distinction with the Islamic government in neighboring Iran, he instructed Iraq's clergy to remain outside of government. That counsel was grounded in Sistani's theological view, a traditional line of thought that sees the clergy's calling as confined to spiritual affairs, not administrative. While other clerics in Iraq have spoken openly about political ambitions, Sistani has made clear that he seeks no role in a future government.

"Religious scholars should distance themselves from positions of administrative and executive responsibility," said Sistani, who wears a black turban that, among Shiites, denotes descent from the family of the prophet Muhammad."

For more on the crucial Shi'a angle go here.

Posted by Gregory at June 23, 2003 10:04 AM
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