A prominent national Islamic civil rights and
advocacy group today said a U.S. attack on the Imam Ali Shrine in the Iraqi
city of Najaf would harm America’s image in the Muslim world and called for
negotiations to end the fighting.
Marine commanders say they are preparing a final assault on an Iraqi
militia group holding out in Najaf, where the Imam Ali Shrine, its
associated educational institutions and an ancient cemetery are located.
Any American assault would likely involve attacks on and possible damage to
the shrine, a site revered by millions of Shia Muslims in Iraq and around
SEE: “U.S. Forces, Close to Attack in Najaf, Suddenly Pull Back”
In its statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
“An attack by U.S. forces on the Imam Ali shrine, and the inevitable damage
and civilian casualties resulting from such an attack, would only serve to
further harm America’s image in Iraq and throughout the Muslim world. We
call on all parties to the ongoing conflict in Najaf and elsewhere in Iraq
to respect religious sensitivities, remove weapons from religious
institutions, avoid any actions that might threaten damage to holy places,
and seek negotiated settlements to outstanding political disputes.”
The statement noted that Iraq’s Deputy President Ibrahim Jaafari is urging
U.S. troops to leave Najaf. “I call for multinational forces to leave Najaf
and for only Iraqi forces to remain there,” said Jaafari.
An article in today’s Washington Post indicated that the fighting in Najaf
has already resulted in widespread damage to that city’s cemetery.
SEE: “Cemetery Fight Haunts Some U.S. Troops”
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 28 regional
offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
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