Iraq Muslim Cleric Hate
Islamic Rioters Attack Christian Shops in Northern Iraq
First widespread violence against Christians in once-safe Kurdish region.
By Damaris Kremida
December 8, 11
ISTANBUL – Attacks against Christian Assyrian businesses in northern
Iraq over the weekend, which local sources said were organized by a
pro-Islamic political party, marked the first such destruction of
Christian establishments in the Kurdish region.
The rampage threatens the frail security of Iraq’s dwindling Christian population, sources said.
After mullah Mala Ismail Osman Sindi’s sermon claiming there was moral
corruption in massage parlors in the northern town of Zakho on Friday
(Dec. 2), a group of young men attacked and burned shops in the town,
most of them Christian-owned. The businesses included liquor stores,
hotels, a beauty salon and a massage parlor, according to Ankawa News.
“The interesting thing with this incident is the place where it
happened,” Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the
East said. “KRG [the Kurdish Regional Government] is, for the most
part, safe and secure, and all inhabitants enjoy prosperity and
security, until now at least. The future is, by all means, bleak for
the Christians and other minorities living there.”
Some of the assailants waved banners stating, “There Is No God but
Allah,” according to Ankawa News. Sources said local authorities were
slow in responding, resulting in heavy financial losses.
Thousands of Christians had fled to the Kurdish region since the U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq in 2003.
Mullah Sindi denied accusations that he provoked the violence against
northern Iraq’s Christian community, according to Ankawa News. After
Sindi’s sermon, a man reportedly stood up in the mosque and said that
since there were un-Islamic massage parlors in Zakho, Muslims should go
destroy them. The mob started with the town’s only massage parlor and
continued to stores selling liquor and three hotels, where they lit
fires, according to Ankawa News.
Later on Friday, the mob tried to attack the Christian quarters of Zakho, but authorities stopped them.
Violence also erupted on Saturday morning (Dec. 3) on the outskirts of
Dohuk in two Christian neighborhoods, where groups attacked liquor
stores and burned a Christian cultural club. Yesterday (Dec. 5) small
pockets of violence against Christian communities were quickly
extinguished near the Kurdish capital, Erbil, and in the center of
Sulaymaniyah, 200 kilometers (124 miles) south.
In Zakho, near the border with Turkey, owners of liquor shops and other
establishments whose shops were burned and vandalized found leaflets on
the walls of their destroyed shops yesterday (Dec. 5) threatening to
kill them if they re-opened, according to Ankawa News. Some of the shop
owners were Yezidis, a local religious sect.
The attacks were reportedly organized by the Kurdistan Islamic Union
party, which is inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the region’s
oldest Islamist parties and founded in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood
strives to influence governments in the region toward more Islamic
In retaliation for the Zakho attacks, members of the Kurdish ruling
party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), on Friday evening (Dec. 2)
burned an Islamic Union office in Zakho. Over the weekend, KDP members
ransacked and destroyed 10 Islamic Union offices in Dohuk province. The
KDP claimed the Islamic Union planned the weekend attacks, and the
Islamic Union blamed the KDP for storming their offices in retaliation,
according to Ankawa News.
The unrest in the KRG in the last few days is a reflection of the
unrest in the region, and as commonly happens, Christians were caught
in the middle as innocent victims, Christian sources told Compass.
“I think these attacks were organized,” Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk
Louis Sako said. “They might be connected not only to domestic issues,
but also to events outside the country. Unfortunately, it’s always the
Christians who pay the price.”
The motives of the mobs in Zakho were not purely religious, according
to General Secretary of the Chaldo-Assyrian Student and Youth Union
Kaldo Oghanna. Some of the young men may have attacked the mostly
Christian establishments out of religious motives, but Oghanna said
many of them joined the attacks only out of frustration toward the
government. Others probably joined for personal benefit, as some
members of the mob stole money and even liquor from the shops they
destroyed, he said.
Most importantly, however, the attacks reflect the attitude of
intolerance and discrimination that threaten the stability, safety and
democratic process of the Kurdish region, Oghanna said.
“This attack is not a normal attack,” Oghanna said. “It threatened our
businesses, and it is threatening the situation in Kurdistan. They
attacked the democracy of the Kurdish region, its safety and security.
Of course, we think there are international and domestic influences
that made this situation escalate, but we also think this is in the
mentality of those people: that they do not tolerate those who are
different. This is our real struggle here.”
The greatest challenge of Iraq’s Christian Assyrian community since
2003 has been its dwindling population. The waves of the Iraqi
Christian exodus have usually come after violent attacks on their
communities. Archbishop Sako said he fears this attack may inspire more
“Now, maybe, because Christians are shocked and afraid, they will start
to emigrate, and this is a bigger challenge,” he said. “We are
encouraging them to stay.”
Female Genital Mutilation "An Obligation" According to Iraqi Muslim Cleric
by Irfan Al-Alawi
August 18, 2011
Hudson New York
In June, the parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) adopted a ban on domestic violence, including female
genital mutilation (FGM), a "procedure" that is widespread among Iraqi
Kurds. The law will come into effect once it is signed by KRG president
Mesud Barzani, who represents the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
But a local cleric, Ismail Sussai, in the major Iraqi Kurdish city of
Arbil, has delivered a televised sermon in which he described FGM as
"obligatory," called on fathers to kill themselves, on pain of losing
their "honor," if they are legally prevented from abusing their
daughters for using mobile phones; and he defended the beating of wives
The Kurdish cleric was particularly offended by use of mobile phones
among girls, as well as by suggestions that the beating of women and
children should be legislatively curbed, along with the FGM that was
inflicted on the mothers and grandmothers of present-day Iraqi Kurdish
leaders, and is still suffered by a majority of Kurdish girls.
He went on to threaten political opposition to the KRG if Barzani signs the law against domestic violence and FGM.
Sussai's diatribe included the claim that sanctions against FGM were
forced on the Iraqi Kurds by a conference of "Jews" in the Chinese
capital of Beijing -- a bizarre charge that is apparently based in the
condemnation of FGM by the Fourth World Conference on Women hosted by
the United Nations in Beijing in 1995.
Sussai based his argument for FGM on support for it by the Shafi'i
school of Islamic jurisprudence, one of four Sunni schools. While
Shafi'i legalists have declared FGM obligatory, its imposition on girls
has not been uniform. Shafi'i jurisprudence is widely adhered to in
Muslim communities in East Africa, as well as in Egypt and Indonesia,
with additional enclaves of support in the other Arab lands, the Indian
ocean, and Southeast Asia. But FGM is rare in large areas of the Muslim
geographical region that recognizes Shafi'i religious law.
FGM is a pre-Islamic practice that appears to have been assimilated
into Shafi'i jurisprudence through adoption of local customs. It is
more common among Black Africans of differing religious affiliation, as
well as Arabs in diverse areas of Saudi Arabia and its neighbours,
including Egypt. Immigrants from both parts of the globe have
introduced FGM into Europe and the U.S., where it is banned. Parents
who insist on it may send their daughters back to their homelands for
infliction of FGM, but in doing so violate the law.
Along with many Western countries, Indonesia and Egypt have prohibited
FGM, although some extremist clerics in both countries emphasize their
support for it in the style of the Kurdish Ismail Sussai.
FGM is unknown in the Muslim Balkans, rare in Turkey and Central Asia,
and absent from India and Bangladesh. The custom is controversial and
despised by most of the Islamic global community. Even the radical
cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is influential in Egypt, has averred that
while he supports the practice in a "moderate" Islamic way "indicated"
in some of the hadiths (oral commentaries) of Prophet Muhammad, "such
hadiths are not confirmed to be authentic."
Muslims should work to end FGM, so-called "honour" murders, beatings,
and other abuses imposed on women and children under cover of religion.
With all its many problems, the intentions of Barzani's Kurdistan
Democratic Party (KDP), which has a secular history, and of the
Kurdistan Regional Government, are correct in banning these practices.
President Barzani should sign and enforce the law against domestic
violence, including its anti-FGM components, and disregard the
retrograde harangues of extremist clerics like Ismail Sussai.
But members of the Shafi'i school and non-Shafi'i Muslim clerics must
also recognize a duty to unambiguously repudiate "Islamic" pretexts for
FGM and other family crimes.
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