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Iraqi Imams To Close Mosques For Three Days

All Sunni mosques in Baghdad are to close after Friday prayers on 20 May Baghdad, 19 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Sunni Iraqi imams are answering a call by Muslim Scholars Association head Harith al-Dari to close Sunni mosques for three days in protest of the recent assassinations of Sunni clerics and in protest of the recent arrests of some Sunni leaders, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reported today.

Adnan Muhammad Salman al-Dulaymi, president of the Sunni Al-Waqf Council, announced today following a meeting with Sunni clerics at the Nida Al-Islam Mosque in Baghdad that Sunni mosques will close following the noon Friday prayers on 20 May. The Sunni-led Iraqi Islamic Party has also supported the closure.

The three-day closure is likely to spark demonstrations.

Al-Dulaymi said in his announcement, broadcast by RFI, that he believes the use of dialogue and nonviolent protest would draw support to the issues. "We address a call to all Iraqis to preserve calmness and unity, and to abstain from violence, killing, and shedding blood," he said.

Sunni leader al-Dari elicited sharp criticism from Shi'ite leaders on 19 May after he accused the Badr Brigades, the armed wing of the Shi'ite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), of being behind the recent assassinations of Sunni clerics in Iraq.

Shi'ite Political Council Secretary-General Husayn al-Musawi responded to al-Dari's allegations by accusing the Muslim Scholars Association on 19 May of attempting to incite sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'a, RFI reported. "It is impossible that the Badr [Organization] or the Iraqi government perpetrated any killing of any person. The government is now able to arrest any criminal, put him in prison, and forward him to justice....There is no truth to these accusations," al-Musawi said.

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