Friday Sermons, 23 June, 2006

The USG Open Source Center reports on and paraphrases sermons last Friday in Iraq.

"Iraqi Television: Roundup of Friday Sermons 23 June, 2006
(Iraq/Region) -- OSC Report
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 T06:22:10Z

Major Iraqi television channels Baghdad Satellite Channel; Baghdad Al-Furat; Baghdad Al-Iraqiyah; Baghdad Al-Diyar; Cairo-based Al-Baghdadiyah; and Baghdad Al-Sharqiyah -- are observed on 23 June to carry the following reports on Friday sermons, with particular emphasis on the Iraqi Government's national reconciliation initiative and the "involvement" of security agencies in Iraq's deteriorating security.

At 0845 GMT Baghdad Satellite Channel in Arabic, reportedly sponsored by the Iraqi Islamic Party, carries a live relay of Shaykh Harith al-Ubaydi's sermon from the Sunni Al-Shawwaf Mosque in Baghdad.

In his sermon, Shaykh Harith Al-Ubaydi touches upon the issue of security. Al-Ubaydi asserts that only upright and trustworthy people should be charged with security responsibilities, adding that "those who are not trustworthy are incapable of providing others with security. Those who are unjust are incapable of providing others with justice." Al-Ubaydi also underlines the importance of retribution for the achievement of security and the elimination of crime.

Moreover, Al-Ubaydi maintains that sectarian and political tensions are the driving force behind the killings and abductions in Iraq. Al-Ubaydi asks: "Who benefits from these killings and the blood that is being spilled on the streets of Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, and Al-Anbar, as well as many other cities in Iraq?" He adds: "Who benefits from the bombing of mosques and husayniyahs? Who benefits from the bombing of churches? Who benefits from the assassination of scientists, doctors, and university professors?" Al-Ubaydi holds certain parties, "who do not wish for stability in Iraq, or who seek the benefit of their people," responsible for the atrocities committed in Iraq. Similarly, Al-Ubaydi denounces the killing of Sunni and Shiite imams and the displacement of Iraqi families.

Al-Ubaydi commends Prime Minister Al-Maliki and his government's recent intervention in an effort to stop the "bloodshed" in Basra, while calling for more serious measures to end the wave of killings in Basra and other cities. Al-Ubaydi accuses officers in the security forces who enrolled in the Police and Ministry of Interior forces in order to settle scores.

Al-Ubaydi also holds the "occupation forces" responsible for the ongoing violence in Iraq, adding that the British forces did nothing to curb the violence that broke out in Basra. He adds: "What are the US forces doing in Baghdad and Al-Anbar, apart from killing the innocent? What have they done with those who commit crimes against Iraqis?"

Moreover, Al-Ubaydi notes reports regarding the release of convicted criminals by "foreign forces." Al-Ubaydi maintains that they were released in order to commit more crimes against the Iraqi people. Al-Ubaydi goes on to address the "occupation forces" by asking: "Why are criminals being set free, while the innocent remain locked up in prisons?" He adds: "Why does the government not expedite the formation of a national army and a police force?"

Al-Ubaydi calls on neighboring countries to meet their obligations toward their neighbor Iraq, by joining efforts to end the "bloodshed," while demanding that they "forgo any hidden agendas" and desist from stirring up tension from beyond the borders.

In addition, Al-Ubaydi calls on the chieftains of Basra to work toward ending the violence in the city, while urging the Iraqi Government to deploy neutral forces, representing all Iraqi ethnicities and sectarian leanings, to restore security to Basra.

Within its 1700 GMT newscast, Baghdad Al-Furat in Arabic, a television station affiliated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), reports that Friday preachers touched upon various topics, including, the "displacement of the followers of Prophet Muhammad's household," while others denounced the indiscriminant killing of civilians and the Defense Ministry's failure to take action over the abduction of staffers of Al-Nassir Company in Al-Taji area.

The channel cites Al-Sayid Muhammad al-Haydari, imam and preacher of the Shiite Al-Khillani Mosque, as saying: "Last night and early this morning, mortar shells were fired at areas inhabited by the followers of Prophet Muhammad's household in order to drive them away." He adds that this is a very critical issue that should not be allowed to continue, indicating that the number of displaced individuals has reached 120,000 people. He goes on to say: "Despite the applied security plan, we have yet to see any action to end these operations (that displace families.)"

Additionally, the channel cites Shaykh Malik al-Kinani, imam and preacher of Al-Hadarah Al-Kazimiyah Mosque, as saying that "the ongoing violence in Iraq is a continuation of the crimes committed by the Ba'thists against the innocent." He adds that developments in the trial of "Saddam the Tyrant" have had a great impact on the daily lives of Iraqis, as "Saddam's henchmen" have retaliated by escalating attacks on civilians. "Saddam's gangs, henchmen, and followers in the army, who have assumed responsibilities in a purely Saddamite authority, have come to defend Saddam. Notice that whenever the cursed Saddam is on trial, thousands of explosions rock the streets of Iraq."

Meanwhile, the channel reports that the imam and preacher of Al-Rhaman Mosque held the Defense Ministry responsible for the recent acts of violence, which according to him, are taking place mainly in areas under the Defense Ministry's control.

Furthermore, the channel cites Shaykh Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, imam and preacher of the Shiite Buratha Mosque, as warning against a conspiracy "to ignite sedition in Iraq in order to please Iraq's enemies and enable them to take control of the country, whose people will have become divided." He says that the Iraqi people should thwart the conspiracies of their enemies and expose them before the eyes of the world.

At 1935 GMT, Al-Furat carries a program entitled "Excerpts from Friday Sermons." The channel cites Al-Sayid Sadr-al-Din al-Qubbanji, imam and preacher of Al-Husayniyah Al-Fatimiyah Mosque in Al-Najaf and member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), as denouncing the killing of Iraqi civilians and the abduction of Arab and foreign diplomats, and describing their perpetrators as "savages."

Al-Qubbanji goes on to say that the random release of "terrorists" from Iraqi prisons has allowed terrorism to continue in Iraq.

Moreover, Al-Qubbanji asserts: "No one is rejecting the idea of national reconciliation, but reconciling with terrorists is like reconciling with a monster." He adds: "Those who decapitate people, blow themselves up, and behead children are monsters. How are we supposed to reconcile with them?"

On the former president's trial, Al-Qubbanji commends Prosecutor General Ja'far al-Musawi for demanding the death penalty for Saddam Husayn and his men, adding that all Iraqis demand that the "tyrant" be executed.

Within its 1600 GMT newscast, Baghdad Al-Iraqiyah Television in Arabic -- government-sponsored television station, run by Iraqi Media Network -- reports that Shaykh Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, imam and preacher of the Shiite Buratha Mosque, has stated that he holds security agencies responsible for the deteriorating security in some parts of Baghdad. Shaykh Al-Saghir asks: "Why did terrorist activities escalate particularly in areas protected by the Iraqi Army?"

Moreover, Shaykh Al-Saghir calls on the Iraqi Government to take a firm stand toward armed militias that are funded by foreign parties. He states: "If a national reconciliation attempt escalates terrorist activities, then we do not want it."

The channel adds that after performing Friday prayers, worshippers were harassed by some Defense Ministry officers, who opened fire into the air and knocked into worshippers with rifle butts, after announcing an unscheduled curfew.

Meanwhile, the channel reported that Shaykh Anas al-Isawi, imam and preacher of the Sunni Al-Kilani Mosque, criticized the Iraqi House of Representatives for "not carrying out its duties" and being engrossed in matters of personal interest, while horrendous crimes of all types are being committed against the Iraqi people.

Baghdad Al-Diyar television in Arabic -- independent, private news and entertainment channel, run by Faysal al-Yasiri, Iraqi media figure -- was not observed to carry reports on Friday sermons.

Within its 1800 GMT newscast, Al-Baghdadiyah Television, a Cairo-based Iraqi channel known for its opposition to the "US occupation" in Iraq, reports that Friday preachers touched upon the security situation and the effect of the recently enforced curfew on the daily lives of Iraqis, while underlining the importance of national unity.

The channel cites Shaykh Salah al-Ubaydi, imam and preacher of Imam Abu Musa al-Kazim Mosque, as saying that the curfew, which starts at 1400 Baghdad time on Friday and ends the following morning, is designed by the "enemies of the Iraqi people" to capture the largest number of believers and worshippers.

Moreover, the channel cites the preacher of the Sunni Abi-Hanifah al-Nu'man Mosque as emphasizing the important role of the Iraqi Government in achieving national reconciliation and the need to entrust arms only to those who are not involved in criminal activities.

The imam calls on worshippers to stand firm against schemes to divide Iraq, asserting that this will ultimately lead to the country's destruction. He adds that the "fire" of sectarianism has already started in Iraq, but there is still time "to put it out."

Within its 1800 GMT newscast, Baghdad Al-Sharqiyah Television in Arabic -- independent, private news and entertainment channel focusing on Iraq, run by Sa'd al-Bazzaz, publisher of the Arabic-language daily Al-Zaman -- reports that Al-Sayid Sadr-al-Din al-Qubbanji, imam and preacher of Al-Husayniyah Al-Fatimiyah Mosque in Al-Najaf and member of the supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), criticized the Iraqi prime minister's decision to release hundreds of "terrorists" without following the legal procedures. He added that the United States should take serious action against "terrorists," as it did with the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay."

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