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Sunni and Shiite Reconciliation Conference Seeks to Build Trust between All Muslims | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Sunni and Shiite reconciliation conference scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia on 27 and 28 Ramadan with the aim of reaching an agreement to stop the escalating violence is also set to include a plea to Saudi clerics to address an appeal forbidding Muslims from declaring each other infidels and also the shedding of Muslims’ blood under any circumstances, A leading Iraqi cleric told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The proposal, which a group of Shiite and Sunni clerics drafted at preparatory meetings in Saudi Arabia, aims principally at removing the atmospheres of tension and lack of trust between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites.

“The document is not for establishing reconciliation between the Sunni and Shiite clerics but to let the people, especially those involved in the killing operations, feel that there is no distinction between the Sunnis and Shiites and that any differences are minor and do not spoil the relationship between the two sides.” Saleh al-Haydari, head of the Shiite Waqf Department in Iraq, told “Asharq al-Awsat”

He added that the broad lines of this document is to “highlight the organic relationship between the Shiites and Sunnis, remove the illusion among some who believe that the Shiites are infidels, and underline the very close relationship between them in addition to calling on neighboring countries to help Iraq stop the export of terrorism.”

Regarding the plea to Saudi clerics to address an appeal forbidding Muslims from declaring each other infidels the Shiite cleric believes that the issuance of such an appeal by the Saudi clerics would have a big impact on establishing peace in Iraq as it “will help deter those coming to Iraq to carry out operations believing that this will open the doors of paradise to them.” According to Al-Haydari, the upcoming meeting would be a purely religious one without the participation of any political bodies and pointed out at the same time that the Iraqi religious authorities have seen the draft document “and have not expressed negative observations about it.” But there are doubts that this new attempt to stop the bloodshed between the Iraqis can be successful on the ground and whether it will be just a symbolic initiative.

Sheikh Abdul-Salam al-Kubaysi, the official in charge of public relations in the Association of Muslim Scholars — a grouping of Sunni clerics — says the document includes some practical measures such as forming committees in the governorates, organizing seminars between the clerics, and activating the role of the tribal leaders in curbing the acts of violence.” But he stresses that “the important thing is the likelihood of implementation and the method of solution.” This was a reference to the “honor document” that Sunni and Shiites clerics signed before few days under the sponsorship of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in an attempt to stop the cycle of violence but which did not have any practical effect. Al-Kubyasi says, “It is impossible to move to a constructive approach under a destructive one resulting from the occupation and which imposed the sectarian quotas formula and the minority and majority reasoning.”

“The Iraqi will not believe all these documents unless he feels a change in the reality.” He added