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GLOBAL UMMAH SOLIDARITY
#1
IRAN BACKS IUMS ANTI-SECTARIAN DRIVE  


Farahat Al Abbar
  
Khamenei called for drawing up a practical charter for achieving Muslim solidarity.

CAIRO — Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reiterated Iran's support for a call by the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) to bring together religious authorities of different Muslim sects to probe means of closing the Muslim ranks and uprooting sectarianism.

"Khamenei extolled the call by the IUMS and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to organize a conference bringing together religious authorities of the different Muslim sects with the aim of clarifying the religious stance on such practices and ending such malicious crimes," the Dublin-based IUMS said in a statement faxed to IslamOnline.net.

During his meeting with the IUMS delegation on the sidelines of the 19th International Conference on the Islamic Unity, currently hosted by Tehran, Khamenei pledged that the major Shiite country would throw its weight behind the drive.

He also voiced hope that the proposed conference "would result in a statement signed by all religious authorities calling for closing ranks and stemming division".

The Iranian supreme leader further pledged to personally champion efforts to issue such a statement.

The delegation included IUMS deputy secretary generals Sheikh Ahmad Bin Hamad Al-Khalili and Ayatollah Muhammad `Ali At-Taskhiri as well as Dr. Ali Muhyealdin Al-Quradaghi, a member of IUMS board of trustees and Vice Chairman of IslamOnline.net's Board of Directors.

The Dublin-based IUMS was launched in July, 2004 , in the British capital London as an independent body and a reference for all Muslims worldwide.

Muslim Charter

Khamenei called on Muslim scholars, intellectuals and political leaders to join hands to foster unity in the Muslim world.

"The religious and political leaders are expected to propagate Islamic solidarity among several million strong followers of Islam and with reliance upon the large Muslim population, they should pave the way for progress and scientific achievements," he said.

The Iranian supreme leader stressed that enemies of Islam were conspiring to sow discord among Muslims.

"In the campaign against discord among the Muslims, we should take practical steps not merely by words in a bid to foster solidarity which is a requirement for the economic, cultural and political progress of Muslims throughout the world."

He also pressed for drawing up a practical charter for achieving Muslim solidarity.

Sectarian tensions flare up every now and then between Sunnis and Shiites in some parts of the Muslim world, including Pakistan.

Iraq has also been plagued by a series of Shiite-Sunni attacks, amid warning that the Arab country was on the verge of a civil war.

The IUMS has urged Iraq's revered Sunni and Shiite scholars to shoulder their responsibility in stemming sectarian-based blood shedding.

It vowed to form a team of its scholars to map out a complete plan to end sectarian tension in Iraq.


END SHIITE PROSELYTIZING : QARADAWI  
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1168265754417&pagename=Zone-English-News%2FNWELayout

"The Shiite proselytizing in areas with heavy Sunni populations is dangerous and throws a spanner in unity efforts," Qaradawi said.

DOHA — Prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has called on Shiites to stop proselytizing Sunnis, imploring both communities to close ranks and stand united to face daunting challenges ahead.
"The Shiite proselytizing in areas with heavy Sunni populations is dangerous and throws a spanner in unity efforts," Qaradawi told the first Doha Conference for Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought, which opened Saturday, January 20.

Qaradawi, the head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said Sunnis, a majority in the Muslim world, have taken the initiative and issued fatwas that recognized the Shiite Jaafari school, unlike Shiites.

He cautioned that proselytizing sows division and stands as a stumbling bloc to denominational proximity.

Qaradawi cited an example of Iranian diplomats who spread books promulgating the Shiite belief in Sudan, which was confirmed by Sudanese Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) Esam Al-Bashir, who attends the conference.

But Iranian Shiite scholar Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri, the head of the Islamic Culture and Communications Organization (ICCO), rejected Qaradawi's proselytizing charges.

"Sunnis should instead stop proselytizing Shiites," he said, urging Sunni scholars to stop branding Shiites as "infidels" due to dogmatic differences.

Ali Azrship, head of the Iranian-Arab Cultural Studies Center in Iran, said he did not expect such remarks from Qaradawi, which he says do not help Muslim dialogue.

The three-day conference is held under the theme "Schools of Thoughts & Contemporary Challenges".

The event is organized by the Qatari College of Sharia`h in cooperation with Al-Azhar University and the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.

It has drawn more than 200 delegates from over 40 countries, including Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and Egypt's Religious Endowments Minister Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk.

Insulting Companions

Qaradawi criticized some Shiites for repeatedly insulting the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

"How can I shake hands with those who are swearing at the Companions? It is the Companions who brought Islam to Iran, so why the rudeness?"

He rejected Shiite claims that Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab was responsible for the killing of the prophet's daughter and wife of Imam Ali, Fatima Al-Zahra.

"Both Shiites and Sunnis should remove any provocative remarks from their discourse and curricula," insisted Qaradawi.

He urged Sunni and Shiite scholars worldwide to engage in a candid dialogue to bridge the gap between the two schools and end differences that stoke sectarian sedition.

"We are trying our best to bridge the gap between different religions, so why don't we do the same to bridge the gap between the followers of the Muslim faith?" Qaradawi wondered.

Bashir, the Sudanese minister, also criticized Shiite insults of the Companions.

"I tell those Shiites who swear at the Companions to model them after Kuwaiti Shiites and Sunnis, who established a society revering the Companions," he said.

Iraq Violence

Qaradawi said Muslim scholars cannot stand idly vis-à-vis the raging sectarian violence in Iraq with Sunnis taking the brunt.

"There are attempts to change the demography of (the Iraqi capital) Baghdad to force Sunnis out," he charged.

Adnan Al-Dulaimi, the leader of the Sunni National Accord Front, has recently accused Shiite militias of trying to change Baghdad's Sunni demography through waves of sectarian killings and forcible evacuations.

"This plot is based on killing and intimidating Sunnis, forcing them into a panicky flight from Baghdad and its suburbs to change the demography," he told IslamOnline.net.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said earlier this month around 12 percent of Iraqis have fled their homes as a result of the sectarian violence that engulfed the country following the US-led invasion in 2003.

Qaradawi hit out at "black hatred" of Shiite death squads who grisly torture Sunnis before killing them.

The Pentagon, in a recent report, described the Shiite Mahdi Army militia as the biggest threat to Iraq's security and the main culprit behind the surge in civilian deaths.

Iraq's most revered Shiite scholar Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has admitted his inability to prevent a civil war in Iraq, lamenting that he no longer as an influence on Shiites who have switched allegiance to militant groups and death squads.

Almost 34,000 Iraqi civilians died last year as the sectarian violence reached new heights, above all in Baghdad.

Iran's Role

  
The conference has drawn 200 scholars from all over the world. (IOL)  
Qaradawi asserted that Iran does have the power to extinguish the sectarian fire in Iraq.

"There is no doubt that Iran has power and influence...and can stop this turmoil and put out this fire...before it is too late," he said.

"It is high time the Shiites distanced themselves from what's going on in Iraq," said Qaradawi, noting that he made fervent calls to top Shiite scholars like Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei to intervene.

"The power which is hostile to Islam...is plotting to divide this nation along ethnic, denominational and territorial lines," said Qaradawi without specifying the power in question.

Earlier this month, Qaradawi urged Khamenei and top Iranian scholars to do something and stop the systematic killing of Iraqi Sunnis.

"Otherwise," he said, "Sunnis worldwide would accuse them of complicity."

Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hamad el-Attaiya said sectarian divisions are the greatest challenge facing the Muslim nation.

He urged Shiites and Sunnis to take into their strides politically-motivated differences, which are exploited by others to serve their interests.

Ihsanoglu, the OIC's chief, said the Muslim nation is in a dire need to cement its unity, regretting that sectarian conflicts had become a fact of life that spells grave consequences for Muslims worldwide.

"I fear that the bloody sectarian differences between Muslims would turn into political conflicts."


IUMS, IRAN BRIDGE SUNNI-SHIITE DIVIDE

Mustafa Abdel-Gawwad
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1172500524666&pagename=Zone-English-News%2FNWELayout

"We have agreed a number of constructive steps to bolster the bonds of Islamic fraternity between Sunnis and Shiites," Awa told IOL.

CAIRO — The International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and Iran have agreed a series of steps, to be soon made public, to bridge the Sunni-Shiite divide and defuse raising sectarian tension.
"We have agreed a number of constructive steps to bolster the bonds of Islamic fraternity between Sunnis and Shiites," Mohamed Salim Awa, IUMS Secretary General, told IslamOnline.net on Wednesday, January 31.

The first of the agreed steps would see light in a fortnight, he expected, declining to give further details.

Awa said the agreement was reached during a visit by an IUMS delegation to Tehran this week.

"The delegation held talks with Iranian officials on containing the rising tension between the two main branches of the Muslim nation."

The delegation, which comprised Awa and IUMS board member Fahmi Howeidi, met with Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council, Ali Larijani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and Ali Akbar Wilayati, adviser of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

They also met with Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki and Ayatollah Mohammed Ali Al Taskhiri, Secretary General of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Thought.

"The response of the Iranian officials was very positive," said Awa.

Sunni-Shiite tensions have been running high in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion-turned-occupation, with a hundred of Iraqis being killed in sectarian violence on a daily basis.

Pakistan has also seen on-and-off sectarian violence over the past years, despite a long history of peaceful co-existence between Sunnis and Shiites.

Iraq Reconciliation

Awa said talks with Iranian officials tackled means of halting sectarian violence gripping Iraq.

"The delegation discussed with the Iranian officials the sectarian killings and forced eviction in Iraq," he added.

Awa pressed for halting bloodletting and reconciling Sunnis and Shiites in the clash-inflicted Iraq.

Convening in Doha on Monday, January 22, some 200 senior Sunni and Shiite scholars and thinkers condemned the raging sectarian strife in Iraq and urged a traded halt of Shiite and Sunni proselytizing.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the IUMS president, told the participants that Tehran does have the power to stop the sectarian violence in Iraq, remarks that drew rebuke from Iranian officials.

"We explained to the Iranian officials that the remarks do not single a departure from Qaradawi's principal position on bridging Sunni-Shiite differences," Awa said.

He denied any link between the statements and the fact that the IUMS delegation did not confer with Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We met the people we were scheduled," insisted the IUMS secretary general.

The Dublin-based IUMS was launched in July, 2004, in the British capital as an independent body and a reference for all Muslims worldwide.

It has repeatedly urged Iraq's revered Sunni and Shiite scholars to shoulder their responsibility in stemming sectarian-based blood shedding.

Almost 34,000 Iraqis died last year as the raging sectarian violence reached new heights, above all in Baghdad, according to the latest death count published by the government.

The UN says raging violence in Iraq has internally displaced 1.7 million people and that about 2 million more are sheltering outside Iraq, comprising a worrying 12 percent of the total population.

The International Medical Corps (IMC) warned Tuesday, January 30, that up to one million Iraqis would flee their homes in the capital Baghdad within the next six months if the bloody sectarian violence went on unabated.


Reply
#2
SCHOLARS SEEK MUSLIM UNITY

Mohammad Sabrah
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1168265727030&pagename=Zone-English-News%2FNWELayout
  
"The conference will seek to bridge the gap between the Sunnis and Shiites in order to avoid divisions between the Islamic sects," Manna said

DOHA – More than 200 Muslim scholars and intellectuals will come together in the Qatari capital on Saturday, January 20, to mull ways of promoting dialogue between the different Islamic schools of thought and warding off sectarian divisions. "The Doha Conference for Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought will seek to bridge the gap between the Sunnis and Shiites in order to avoid divisions between the Islamic sects," Aisha Al-Manna, the dean of the Qatari College of Sharia`h and chair of the conference, told IslamOnline.net.

The three-day conferenceis held under the theme "Schools of Thoughts & Contemporary Challenges".

The event is organized by the Qatari College of Sharia`h in cooperation with Al-Azhar University and the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.

A galaxy of prominent Sunni and Shiite Muslim scholars and intellectuals will attend the conference.

Leading among attendees are Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Akmeleddin Ihsanoghlu, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammed Ali Al Taskhiri, Secretary General of The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Thought.

Also attending are Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, the Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, Egypt's Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) and Grand Mufti of Syria Dr. Ahmed Badr al-Din Hassoun.

Muslim Unity

Manna said the meeting will seek to foster unity among the different Islamic sects.

"The idea is not to change beliefs of the Sunnis and Shiites but to open a dialogue between various sects and schools of thought to heal rifts and avoid divisions," she added.

Four years after the US invasion-turned-occupation, Iraq has been plagued by a bloody cycle of sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis.

The UN has said that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed in violence last year alone.

Pakistan is also a scene of occasional attacks between Sunnis and Shiites.

Manna said attendees will also discuss the phenomenon of "exclusivism" and its dangerous impact on inter-faith dialogue.

The unity of the Muslim nation and obstacles hindering proximity between the different schools of thought will also be probed, she added.

Manna urged politicians and intellectuals to seek easing tensions between followers of the different Islamic sects.

She voiced hope that Muslim attendees would succeed in reaching common ground on promoting unity between the different Islamic schools of thought.

The first conference for proximity between the Islamic sects was held in Cairo in 1979.
    
  

Agenda of Doha Conference for Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought
(Role of Proximity in the Umma's Real Unity)

20th to 22nd January , 2007
Doha – Qatar
Sheraton Hotel
Saturday 20th January, 2007

Time Details
10:00 - 11:00
Al-Dafna(1)
Opening Session :

Holy Quran Recital.

• H.E Mr. Abdulla Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah – Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry.
• H.E. Prof. Dr. Mahmoud H Zagzoug – Minister of Endowment & Religious Affairs, Egypt.
• H.E. Sheikh Ahmed Al-Khalili – The Mofti of the Sultanate of Oman.
• Ayatollah. Sheikh Mohamed Ali Al-Taskhiri – General Secretary of The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, Iran.
• H.E. Prof. Dr. Akmeleddin Ihsanoghlu. Secretary General, Organization of Islamic Conference, Jedda.
• H.E. Prof. Dr. Yousef Abdulla Al-Qaradawi, President of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, Qatar.
11:00 - 12:00 Break.
12:00 - 14:00
Al-Dafna(2)
  First Session :
The Importance of Dialogue for the Unity of the Umma:
Chair :-
• H.E. Prof. Dr. Ali Gumaa Mohamed, Mofti of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Rapporteur :-
• H.E. Prof. Dr. Mohamed Abdulla Al-Sharqawi – Professor, College of Sharia Q U.
Speakers:-
• Dr. Issam Ahmed Al-Basheer – General Secretary, Kuwait Wassatiya Centre.
Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought is a necessity.
• Prof. Dr. Abdul Majeed Al-Najjar, Muslim Thinker.
The role of dialogue in addressing civilizational challenges.
• Prof. Dr. Mohamed Ali Azreshab, Professor, Tehran University, and Chairman of the Iranian Arabian Cultural Centre.
Proximity from the elite to the general Public.
• Sheikh Mohana Bin Omran Al-Twaijani, Ebadhi Sect Scholar.
Proximity and its relationship with the Inter-faith Dialogue.
14:00 - 17:00 Lunch.
17:00 - 18:30
Al-Dafna(2)
  Second Session :
Interrelationship between
Islamic Schools of Thought in Islamic heritage:
Chair :-
• Prof. Dr. Sheikh. Tomach Mescovich, Mofti of Poland.
Rapporteur :-
• Dr. Mohamed Saleh Al-Sheeb, Assoc. Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Speakers:-
• Prof. Dr. Abdulmalik A. Al-Saadi, Assoc Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Proclamation of Mekka and proximity.
• Mr. Sayed Shaker Al-Yousef, a Shria Scholar.
Interrelationship between Islamic Schools of Thought in heritage.
• Prof. Dr. Mohmed Hassan Tibraiyan, Advisor to the General Secretary, Proximity Forum, Iran.
Strategy of proximity between Islamic Schools of Thought and its role in the Unity of the Umma.
• Dr. Abdulhakeem Al-Khulaifi, Assoc Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Models of interrelations between Islamic Schools of Thought.
18:30 - 19:00 Break.
19:30 - 21:30
Al-Dafna(2)
  Third Session :
Obstacles and Challenges (1):
Chair :-
• Dr. Abdulsalam Al-Abaddi, Former Endowment Minister, Jordan.
Rapporteur :-
• Dr. Abduljabar Ahmed, Assoc Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Speakers:-
• Prof. Dr. Ahmed Mohamed Al-Tayeb, President Al-Azhar University.
Denominational differences and the illusion of clash.
• Ayatollah. Sheikh Mohamed Ali Al-Taskheri, General Secretary, World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.
Obstacles to proximity.
• Prof. Dr. Siraj Aqeel, Head, Postgraduate Studies, Indonesia University.
Internal challenges.
• Ayatollah Alouzma Fadel Al-Malki, an Imamiya Scholar.
External challenges.
• Prof. Dr. Mohja Ghalib, Prof., College of Islamic Studies,
Al-Azhar University.
Reciprocal allegations.
Sunday 21st January, 2007

Time Details  
09:30 - 11:30
Al-Dafna(2)
  Fourth Session :
Obstacles and Challenges (2):
Chair :-
• Prof. Dr. Wahba Al-Zuhaili, Former Dean, College of Sharia, Syria.
Rapporteur :-
• Dr. Abdulla Ibrahim Al-Ansari, Assist Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Speakers:-
• Prof. Dr. Mohamed Amara, Islamic Scholar, Egypt.
Ex-Communication and the Unity of the Umma.
• Prof. Dr. Ismael Abdulkhaliq Al-Diftar, Prof of Hadith, Al-Azhar University.
Prophet Hadith on the divergence of the Umma.
• Prof. Dr. Ali Laghi, Dean, Mass Com College, Jenan University, Lebanon.
Political challenges.
• Prof. Dr. Mohamed Kamal Imam, Head, Sharia Dept., Alexandria University.
Sectarian bigotry.
• Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Muslim Thinker, UK.
Dialogue and Muslims in non-Muslim countries.
11:30 - 12:00 Break.
12:00 - 14:00
Al-Dafna(2)
  Fifth Session :
Phenomenon of Exclusionism and Its Dangerous Impact
on the Inter-faith Dialogue
Chair :-
• Sheikh. Mustafa Tseritch, Mofti of Bosnia.
Rapporteur :-
• Dr. Hamdi Abdulla Al-Sharqawi, Assist Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Speakers:-
• Dr. Yousef Mahmoud Al-Siddiqi, Vice-Dean, College of Sharia Q U.
Phenomenon of exclusionism: causes, danger and remedy.
• Prof. Dr. Ahemd Badreddin Hassoon, The General Mofti of Syria.
Role of scholars and politicians in redressing the phenomenon of exclusionism.
• Prof. Dr. Mubarak Al-Rashidi, Former Dean, Sharia College, Sultanate of Oman.
Role of pillars of Islam in rejecting the exclusionist thought
• Prof. Dr. Mohamed Hassan Wajeeh, Prof., English Language,
Al-Azhar University.
Media Practicing Exclusion and Managing Conflicts.
14:00 - 17:00 Lunch.
17:00 - 19:00
Al-Dafna(2)
  Sixth Session :
Means of Proximity– Hopes and Aspirations (1)
Chair :-
• Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Al-Tuwaijri , General Secretary (ISESCO) Rabat.
Rapporteur :-
• Prof. Dr. Mohamed Salem Abou Assi, Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Speakers:-
• Prof. Dr. Algassaby Mahmoud Zalat, Former Vice-President,
Al-Azhar University.
Phenomenon of extremism and means of proximity.
• Prof. Dr. Khalid Al-Mazkour, Chairman, Higher Committee for the Application of Sharia, Kuwait.
Jurisprudence (Fiqh) of Al- Albait (the family of the Prophet) and its role in proximity.
• Prof. Dr. Abdelkhaliq Qaddi, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, International Islamic University, Pakistan.
Norms of dialogue among Islamic Schools of Thought .
• Ayatollah Shiekh Mohamed Waez Zadah Al-Khorasani, a Sheia Scholar, Iran.
Role of Al Thagalain Hadith in proximity between Islamic Schools of Thought.
19:00 - 19:30 Break.
19:30 - 21:30
Al-Dafna(2)
  Seven Session :
Means of Proximity – Hopes and Aspirations (2)
Chair :-
• Prof. Dr. Abdulateef M. Al-Mahmoud, Prof., Islamic and Arabic Studies, Kingdom of Bahrain.
Rapporteur :-
• Prof. Dr. Mohamed Abdelhafez Ibrahim, Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Speakers:-
• Sheikh. Ibrahim Mohamed Al-Wazeer, Chairman, Islmic Studies Centre,Yemen.
Practical programs to realize communication.
• Sheikh. Mohamed Suliman Jaras, an Ebadhi Scholar, France.
Practical programs to realize communication between Islamic Schools of Thought.
• Prof. Dr. Sabah Zankana, Advisor, Judiciary, Iran.
Practical programs to realize communication.
• Prof. Dr. Khalil Rajab Hamdan, Prof., Sharia College, Sanaa University.
Practical programs to realize communication.
• Dr. Mohamed Saleem Qasemi, Prof., Aligra University, India.
Role of civil organizations in the realization of proximity.
Monday 22nd January, 2007

09:30 - 12:00
Al-Dafna(1)
  Eighth and Final Session:
Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought and Minorities
Chair :-
• Dr. Jassim Ali Al-Shamsi, Dean, College of Sharia and Law, UAE University.
Rapporteur :-
• Prof. Dr. Aisha Yousef Al-Mannai, Dean, College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, QU.
Speakers:-
• Prof. Dr. Mufti Zahid Ali Khan, Prof., of Islamic Theology, Aligra University, India.
Proximity between Islamic Schools of Thought and its importance for minorities.
• Prof. Dr. Ali Mohi Eddin Al-Quradaghi, Prof., College of Sharia Q U.
Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought and minorities.
Qatar University - (Recommendations).


DOHA CONFERENCE FOR DIALOGUE OF ISLAMIC SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
Mohammad Fathi
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1168265754417&pagename=Zone-English-News

  
"The Shiite proselytizing in areas with heavy Sunni populations is dangerous and throws a spanner in unity efforts," Qaradawi said.

DOHA — Prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has called on Shiites to stop proselytizing Sunnis, imploring both communities to close ranks and stand united to face daunting challenges ahead.
"The Shiite proselytizing in areas with heavy Sunni populations is dangerous and throws a spanner in unity efforts," Qaradawi told the first Doha Conference for Dialogue of Islamic Schools of Thought, which opened Saturday, January 20.

Qaradawi, the head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said Sunnis, a majority in the Muslim world, have taken the initiative and issued fatwas that recognized the Shiite Jaafari school, unlike Shiites.

He cautioned that proselytizing sows division and stands as a stumbling bloc to denominational proximity.

Qaradawi cited an example of Iranian diplomats who spread books promulgating the Shiite belief in Sudan, which was confirmed by Sudanese Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) Esam Al-Bashir, who attends the conference.

But Iranian Shiite scholar Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri, the head of the Islamic Culture and Communications Organization (ICCO), rejected Qaradawi's proselytizing charges.

"Sunnis should instead stop proselytizing Shiites," he said, urging Sunni scholars to stop branding Shiites as "infidels" due to dogmatic differences.

Ali Azrship, head of the Iranian-Arab Cultural Studies Center in Iran, said he did not expect such remarks from Qaradawi, which he says do not help Muslim dialogue.

The three-day conference is held under the theme "Schools of Thoughts & Contemporary Challenges".

The event is organized by the Qatari College of Sharia`h in cooperation with Al-Azhar University and the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.

It has drawn more than 200 delegates from over 40 countries, including Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and Egypt's Religious Endowments Minister Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk.

Insulting Companions

Qaradawi criticized some Shiites for repeatedly insulting the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

"How can I shake hands with those who are swearing at the Companions? It is the Companions who brought Islam to Iran, so why the rudeness?"

He rejected Shiite claims that Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab was responsible for the killing of the prophet's daughter and wife of Imam Ali, Fatima Al-Zahra.

"Both Shiites and Sunnis should remove any provocative remarks from their discourse and curricula," insisted Qaradawi.

He urged Sunni and Shiite scholars worldwide to engage in a candid dialogue to bridge the gap between the two schools and end differences that stoke sectarian sedition.

"We are trying our best to bridge the gap between different religions, so why don't we do the same to bridge the gap between the followers of the Muslim faith?" Qaradawi wondered.

Bashir, the Sudanese minister, also criticized Shiite insults of the Companions.

"I tell those Shiites who swear at the Companions to model them after Kuwaiti Shiites and Sunnis, who established a society revering the Companions," he said.

Iraq Violence

Qaradawi said Muslim scholars cannot stand idly vis-à-vis the raging sectarian violence in Iraq with Sunnis taking the brunt.

"There are attempts to change the demography of (the Iraqi capital) Baghdad to force Sunnis out," he charged.

Adnan Al-Dulaimi, the leader of the Sunni National Accord Front, has recently accused Shiite militias of trying to change Baghdad's Sunni demography through waves of sectarian killings and forcible evacuations.

"This plot is based on killing and intimidating Sunnis, forcing them into a panicky flight from Baghdad and its suburbs to change the demography," he told IslamOnline.net.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said earlier this month around 12 percent of Iraqis have fled their homes as a result of the sectarian violence that engulfed the country following the US-led invasion in 2003.

Qaradawi hit out at "black hatred" of Shiite death squads who grisly torture Sunnis before killing them.

The Pentagon, in a recent report, described the Shiite Mahdi Army militia as the biggest threat to Iraq's security and the main culprit behind the surge in civilian deaths.

Iraq's most revered Shiite scholar Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has admitted his inability to prevent a civil war in Iraq, lamenting that he no longer as an influence on Shiites who have switched allegiance to militant groups and death squads.

Almost 34,000 Iraqi civilians died last year as the sectarian violence reached new heights, above all in Baghdad.

Iran's Role

  
The conference has drawn 200 scholars from all over the world. (IOL)  
Qaradawi asserted that Iran does have the power to extinguish the sectarian fire in Iraq.

"There is no doubt that Iran has power and influence...and can stop this turmoil and put out this fire...before it is too late," he said.

"It is high time the Shiites distanced themselves from what's going on in Iraq," said Qaradawi, noting that he made fervent calls to top Shiite scholars like Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei to intervene.

"The power which is hostile to Islam...is plotting to divide this nation along ethnic, denominational and territorial lines," said Qaradawi without specifying the power in question.

Earlier this month, Qaradawi urged Khamenei and top Iranian scholars to do something and stop the systematic killing of Iraqi Sunnis.

"Otherwise," he said, "Sunnis worldwide would accuse them of complicity."

Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hamad el-Attaiya said sectarian divisions are the greatest challenge facing the Muslim nation.

He urged Shiites and Sunnis to take into their strides politically-motivated differences, which are exploited by others to serve their interests.

Ihsanoglu, the OIC's chief, said the Muslim nation is in a dire need to cement its unity, regretting that sectarian conflicts had become a fact of life that spells grave consequences for Muslims worldwide.

"I fear that the bloody sectarian differences between Muslims would turn into political conflicts."



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#3
MUSLIM SECTARIANISM A PART OF THE US AGENDA

February 2007 / REFLECTIONS by Zafar Bangash
http://www.muslimedia.com/reflect0207.htm

It is difficult to say which is worse: nationalism or sectarianism in the Ummah. The ruling elites in the Muslim world exploit both these weaknesses to advance their own nefarious agendas. Just as nationalism is alien to the political culture of Islam, so sectarianism is the very antithesis of Muslim unity. While most Muslims have little reason to indulge in divisive polemic against fellow Muslims, there are groups within the Ummah whose survival depends on keeping us divided.

Let us consider two recent developments: Hizbullah's successful resistance to zionist aggression in Lebanon last summer and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's standing up to the US. The first elevated Hizbullah leader Shaikh Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah's stature among the Muslim masses, while the second turned Ahmedinejad into a symbol of the courage and defiance so lacking in other Muslim rulers. The popularity of both shot up among Muslims all over the world. Their photographs were prominently displayed in people's homes and in restaurants and coffee shops throughout the Middle East. It did not matter that both are Shi‘a; people instinctively identified with them because their stature and conduct stood in sharp contrast with the spineless cowardice habitually displayed by their own rulers.

These developments clearly alarmed other Muslim rulers and the US, who are struggling to neutralize them. When the two Abdullahs, Saudi and Jordanian, condemned Hizbullah, the Muslim masses reacted angrily and both men had to back down. Their retreat, however, was tactical; aware that the elation at Hizbullah's victory and Ahmedinejad's courage would dissipate in the face of new problems, real or imagined, they waited for an opportune moment to strike back. They did not have to wait long. The US, too, the main loser in these developments, needed to recover lost ground.

In October, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a highly publicized trip to the Middle East to rally “moderate regimes” against the “extremists”, meaning Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and Syria. In December, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met in Bahrain to offer their own pearls of wisdom about confronting extremists. Rice was in the region again in mid-January to mobilize the Arab dinosaurs for a confrontation with the forces of Islam. By this time, events in Iraq, grossly mishandled by the incompetent Iraqi government, were effectively supporting the US effort. “The reality of the current situation is that we are approaching an open Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in the region,” Emad Gad, a specialist in international relations at the government-financed Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, told the New York Times on January 17. “And Egypt will also be a part of it as a part of the Sunni axis. No one will be able to avoid or escape it.” Egypt is not alone in stoking sectarianism; the Saudis are even worse. They fear the growing power of Iran as a threat to their illegitimate rule. Abdul Rahman al-Barak, a Saudi ‘alim close to the ruling family, has described the Shi‘a, whom he referred to by the derogatory term ar-rafideen (the rejectionists), as worse than Jews and Christians.

Members of the GCC also jumped on Rice's anti-Iran bandwagon when their foreign ministers met in Kuwait on January 16. The communiqué they issued must have sounded like music to American ears: “The participants welcomed the commitment by the United States as stated in President Bush's recent speech [January 10] to defend the security of the Gulf, the territorial integrity of Iraq and to ensure a successful, fair and inclusive political process that engages all Iraqi communities and guarantees the stability of the country.” Their concern about inclusiveness would be more convincing had Iraq under Saddam been a model for inclusiveness or if the regimes themselves were so inclined. Their concern is more mundane: to join America's anti-Iran crusade because they fear Iran's growing influence. To undermine Iran, they are willing to resort to crude tactics: fan sectarian tensions by financing it on behalf of the US.

All this is, unfortunately, nothing new; some parts of the Ummah have a long history of falling into the sectarian trap. Soon after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger convened a secret meeting in Cairo to instigate Shi‘a-Sunni conflict by staging an uprising against the regime in either Sudan or Syria. The plan was to embarrass Iran. If Tehran supported the uprising, it would disrupt its relations with these regimes; if it sided with the regimes, Islamic movements worldwide would condemn it for not supporting a part of the Islamic movement. The Syrian Ikhwan were pushed into staging an uprising against the Syrian regime, even though a significant faction, led by Dr Issam al-Ataar, refused to join this US-engineered conspiracy. Inevitably, Hafez al-Asad brutally crushed the uprising, killing thousands in Hama. As planned, this led to years of virulent anti-Iranian propaganda because of Tehran's good relations with Damascus.

The question now, as history threatens to repeat itself, is whether the Ummah has learnt anything from the tragedy of Hama, or whether it will again fall into the traps being laid to advance Uncle Sam's agenda.

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#4
3 MARCH : DARK DAYS FOR THE UMMAH SINCE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE KHILAFAH
http://www.hizb.org.uk/hizb/resources/is...lafah.html

The 3rd of March is a date that is etched into the history of the Muslim Ummah as one of its darkest days ever. It was on this date in the fateful year of 1924 CE that the last vestige of legitimate Islamic rule was ended. The office of Khilifah was abolished by the treacherous Mustafa Kamal and the Muslim Ummah has since then been plunged in to darkness and humiliation. Thus any trace of the Uthmani Khilafah was extinguished as the 101st Khaleefah of Islam, Abdul Mejid II was exiled from the now secular Republic of Turkey.

His banishment from the land of Anatolia with little more than a suitcase and some cash was the beginning of the humiliation that the Muslim world has suffered to this very day. With what was described as the shield of the Muslims by the Prophet Muhammad (saw) - now in exile, the Ummah was set to be subjected to numerous tragedies that would involve against it murderous wars, foreign occupation, economic strangulation, political manipulation as well as a cultural colonialism that sought to distance the Muslim world from the concept of Islamic ruling and the obligation of living under the Khilafah.

With the sole legitimate leadership of the Muslims, the Khilafah, destroyed the lands of Islam were divided in to numerous statelets and disputed territories. These new entities were established along the lines of ethnicity, sectarianism and racism by the colonialist powers of the day in an attempt to ensure that Muslim Ummah would never rise again. Nationalism that was nurtured by the colonialists in the run up to the destruction of the Khilafah helped to ensure that these new entities would remain at loggerheads, never to think of uniting again. In addition, the blessed land of Palestine was occupied, its inhabitants dispersed so as assuage the West’s guilt and a great injustice was committed in establishing the state of Israel. Any attempts to replicate the power of a unitary leadership of the Muslim world were replaced by pathetic and impotent bodies such as Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). These organisations were designed to perpetuate disunity and division as they preserved the borders and barriers betweens Muslims that the colonialists had established. These states have never had the interests of Islam and the Muslims at heart. This can be seen to this day, as the OIC and Arab League issue countless resolutions on issues such as Palestine and Iraq without ever actually doing anything to change the status quo. These resolutions are but lip service by the insincere leaders of these entities to the cause of Islam, designed solely to pacify their Muslim populations into thinking that Islam cannot solve the Ummah’s problems.

These rulers have committed far more heinous crimes against the Muslims than simply issuing empty resolutions. Western colonialism put in place a motley crew of dictators, monarchs, autocrats and downright puppets that have served their colonial masters in a manner more loyal than their own populations. Successive rulers have betrayed the interests of Muslims. With their brutality and lack of self-respect seemingly having no limits, the Muslim rulers are falling over themselves in an attempt to please. For example, Qatar today hosts the largest airstrip in the Middle East, to be used exclusively by the US Air Force to bomb Muslim lands and control the skies of the Middle East. Bahrain, which previously hosted the naval forces of the British Empire, now serves as the base for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet. Almost every nation in the Muslim world today has facilitated the military aims of the various colonial at some point. Present day Pakistan, in a clear contradiction of General Musharraf’s own motto of “Pakistan First”, is engaging in a war with his own people whilst compromising the sovereignty of the country in allowing US troops to act with impunity. Deploying his powerful military not to defend Muslims from aggression, he has made the Pakistani Armed forces nothing more than mercenaries. They are forced to act as mercenaries by the regime for some paltry economic aid for a corrupt government whilst the blood and honour of their brothers and sisters is violated on a global scale. Due to these tyrannical rulers the armies of the Muslim world have been held back, shackled to their bases, unable to come to the aid of their brethren in Chechnya, the Balkans, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else that conflict rages.

Since the destruction of the Khilafah in 1924 there has been an assault on the resources in the Muslim lands. Starting with the 100-year contracts signed with western oil companies to drill for oil in the 1930’s, lucrative contracts are being signed by western agencies for natural resources that rightfully belong to the Ummah. The most recent of which have been the colonial style Production Sharing Agreements (PSA’s) for Iraqi oil. These agreements mean that Iraq oil will be privatised, ending up in the hands of foreign, mostly US, oil companies. In addition to this, these agreements spell out that these oil companies will make up to a massive 75% profit on the oil, with 65 of Iraq’s roughly 80 known oil fields being offered to these companies for exploration. In the words of Dick Cheney during his time as Haliburton CEO in 1999 who said, "By 2010 we will need [a further] 50 million barrels a day. The Middle East, with two-thirds of the oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize lies.” Even the wealth that has been generated has not been utilised by the rulers for the benefit of the people or to secure long-term independence and self-sufficiency. A lack of investment in education, employment and technological infrastructure means that billions of dollars are wasted on importing resources, which could be developed at home. It is shocking that Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, can only produce 57% of the nation’s daily petrol consumption due to a lack of refineries.

The Muslim world has indeed seen destruction, devastation and calamity for the past 83 years. However, the signs of awakening for the return of the Khilafah are now clear for all to see. The proof of this can be seen in the growing gulf between the rulers and the ruled; the speeches and Khutbahs in universities and mosques throughout the Muslim world that call for a sincere and rightly guided Khaleefah to lead the Ummah; witness the mass demonstrations against the bombing and killing of innocent Muslims by US and UK forces in Karachi, Jakarta, Hebron, Dhaka and other places; the increasingly brutal methods and oppression that the regimes are forced to use to quell the desire for political change such as in Egypt and Uzbekistan. It can also be seen by the actions of the colonial powers who realise that the rulers they imposed upon the Muslim world have no support and no legitimacy, hence they are forced to resort to occupying Muslim lands and cementing their presence through military bases. The global reawakening for Khilafah can also be seen in the desperate and pathetic attempts by the regimes and their scholars, who they have bought for a cheap price, to malign, slander and attack the idea of Khilafah. They lie by saying that the Khilafah cannot be established in the modern age, that Islam and politics do not mix, that sectarian differences are too great, that the western powers are too powerful and that the Ummah of Muhammad (saw) can never be unified. All of the efforts of the enemies of Islam will be in vain for Allah (swt) has promised the believers that the Khilafah will return on the method of the Prophet and there is no power or might other than Allah (swt).


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#5
QARADAWI, RAFSANJANI URGE UNITY
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1171431883157&pagename=Zone-English-News%2FNWELayout

"We want action as previous rapprochement conferences and meetings failed to address the roots of disunity," said Qaradawi.

CAIRO — In the first high-profile meeting between top Sunni and Shiite scholars, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's influential Expediency Council, called on Wednesday, February 14, on Muslims all the world over to act in unison and take into their strides differences to face challenges ahead.
"We must try our best to remain united," Qaradawi, the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said in a debate with Rafsanjani on Al-Jazeera satellite channel.

"Islam is above ethnicity and race….If we reach out to Christians and hold inter-faith dialogues, how on earth we don't do the same to unite Muslims," wondered Qaradawi.

Qaradawi said it is high time Shiites and Sunni translated their "good intentions" into concrete steps.

"Enough with compliments, smiling scholars before cameras and hoary old clichés," he said. "We want action as previous rapprochement conferences and meetings failed to address the roots of disunity."

Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, warned that "the enemy" was trying to pit Muslims against one another and throw a spanner in the good work of Sunni and Shiite scholars to cement their unity.

"The US Greater Middle East Project has proved fiasco," he said. "Their problems have accumulated in the region and they are now thinking that Muslim disunity is the answer."

He said the Lebanese victory over Israel last summer has provoked the adversaries to sow division among Muslim countries as they fear a strong Muslim front if all Muslim countries have acted in unison.

"Muslims have a plethora of problems in Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and elsewhere but unity can resolve them all," said Rafsanjani, one of the most trusted advisers of supreme Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic of Iran.

"We have been facing a wave of seditions owning to the situation in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and elsewhere."

"Qur'an forbids Muslim infighting and God has ordered us to cement our unity and Muslims scholars have a major responsibility in this respect."

Rafsanjani blasted "ignorant" Sunnis and Shiites, who stoke ethnic tensions.

"The acts of extremists from both sides should not be allowed to disunite Sunnis and Shiites. Zionism and Israel are the main danger."

"The Muslim nation with up to one billion Muslims and some 60 Muslim heavyweight countries with energy sources and great potentials must join forces to defend the unity of Muslims."

Stumbling Bloc


"Qur'an forbids Muslim infighting and God has ordered us to cement our unity and Muslims scholars have a major responsibility in this respect," said Rafsanjani.
Sheikh Qaradawi said sticking points like insulting the Prophet's Companions by Shiites and Shiite proselytizing in Sunni countries are a stumbling bloc to Shiite-Sunni unity

"As I mentioned in past conferences, I cannot shake hands with a Shiite if I say 'may Allah be pleased with Abu Bakr, Omar and Aisah' while he says 'may Allah curse them.'"

"All Sunnis love the Companions," he stressed. "Who does not love Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, or Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein?"

"Insulting the Companions," added Qaradawi, "is as if we say that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was not a role model."

"Those who insult the Companions must stop once and for all," he averred.

But Qaradawi said that Sunnis should not blame today's Shiites for the mistakes of some of their ancestors and veteran authorities.

"If Shiites decades and decades ago have erred, we cannot blame the young generations for their mistakes," he said.

But Rafsanjani said most of Shiites do revere the Prophet's Companions.

"In Iran we start our sermons with praise to the Prophet and his companions," he said.

"We have tackled this thorny issue frequently and both sides, Sunnis and Shiites, should issue a fatwa banning insulting the Companions."

Qaradawi further said that Shiites must stop proselytizing Sunnis in Sunni-dominant countries like Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia.

"If you go to a Sunni Muslim country like Egypt and Tunisia and tried to promulgate your doctrine, you might win a handful but will surely instigate an entire population against you," he said.

Qaradawi said Shiite minorities should have full rights in predominantly Sunni countries and vice versa.

"In Iran, which has a sizable Sunni minority of up to 15 million people, the government has rejected some requests by Sunnis to establish mosques," he said. "More and more, Sunnis are not represented in the government."

But Rafsanjani again refused to accuse Shiites of proselytizing Sunnis "if they are doing charity and working for well-being of all Muslims."

"All Muslims can work for the common good," he said.

Qaradawi, however, begged to differ.

"Working for the common good is one thing, and proselytizing is another," he said. "We all work for the common good."

Qaradawi further said differences with Shiites in such issues should not be used a pretext by some Sunnis to support any aggression by the West on Tehran.

"If Iran was attacked by the United States, we would rally behind it, no doubt about that," he said.

"We cannot tolerate an aggression on any Muslim country…I said it before for many times that we will support Iran definitely," he said, adding that Iran has the right to have a peaceful nuclear technology.

United Iraq

Both scholars saw eye-to-eye on the importance of maintaining Iraq unity.

"Iraq must remain united and all religious and ethnic factions should live under one flat and one," said Rafsanjani.

"We don't want Shiiites, who were oppressed in the past (under Saddam), to behave this way 'We are back to take revenge.'"

On Iran's reported security and intelligence role in Iraq, Rafsanjani said Iran does not want to interfere in Iraq's affairs.

"We help Muslims everywhere. Haven't we aided Sunni Bosnians? Haven’t we aided the Palestinians? When we defend Iraq and aide our neighbor, we actually defend Islam."

But Qaradawi reiterated that Iran "has the keys in Iraq."

"Iran does have an influence in Iraq," he said. " Iran can say stop this and that…it can turn off such a civil war in Iraq. This situation plays well into the hands of the Americans."

Earlier in January, Qaradawi urged Khamenei and top Iranian scholars to do something and stop the systematic killing of Iraqi Sunnis. "Otherwise," he said, "Sunnis worldwide would accuse them of complicity."

Qaradawi further said that the massacres and bloodshed in Iraq, the death squads and militias, the forced evacuation of Iraqis from their homes the mosques annexed by Shiites by force must come to an end "to bridge the Sunni-Shiite divide,"

Almost 34,000 Iraqi civilians died last year as the sectarian violence reached new heights, above all in Baghdad.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said earlier this month around 12 percent of Iraqis have fled their homes as a result of the sectarian violence that engulfed the country following the US-led invasion in 2003.

"By the same token, we denounced in the strongest possible terms Sunni violent groups who commit atrocities in Iraq and issues relevant fatwas," he said.

Iraq imposed draconian new security rules on its war-torn capital Wednesday.

The first measure announced was the closure of Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria.

In addition, weapons permits will be suspended in Baghdad for all but Iraqi and US-led security forces and registered private security firms, and a nightly curfew will be extended.

Security forces will be able to block or search public or private property and restrict travel by individuals or vehicles.

Iraqis living in housing belonging to displaced persons will have two weeks to clear out.

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#6
US FUELS SUNNI-SHIITE FIRE TO HIT IRAN
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1172500524666&pagename=Zone-English-News%2FNWELayout

"I think this administration will not leave the office without taking action against Iran," Hersh said. (IOL Photo)

CAIRO — Seeking to weaken the newly-bolstered Iranian role in the region, the wartime Bush administration is sowing a flammable Sunni-Shiite divide and is intent on striking Tehran before the end of its tenure, award-winning American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has revealed.
"The US is now repeating an old game, using money to sow a Sunni-Shiite divide across the region," Hersh told a galaxy of Egyptian authors, journalists and students at the American University in Cairo on Sunday, February 25.

He said the administration's "redirection" strategy primarily aims at reversing the profound and unintended consequences of the invasion-turned-occupation of Iraq that magnified the Iranian clout in the region.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist expounded the new strategy in a report published in the March 5 edition of The New Yorker magazine.

The plan is based on executing clandestine operations in Iran, Lebanon and Syria, where financial support is given to strengthen Sunni groups and weaken Shiites.

"We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can," a senior US government consultant told Hersh.

"In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. It’s a very high-risk venture," he admitted.

"This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran," Flynt Leverett, a former Bush administration official, told Hersh.

The key architects of the "redirection" strategy are Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser and former ambassador to the US for 22 years.

The US and Saudi Arabia have joined hands because they see Iran as an existential threat, he added.

According to Hersh, Cheney flew to Saudi Arabia last November for a meeting with King Abdullah and Bandar to warn of "the rise of the Shiites."

A European intelligence official to the veteran American reporter that the Saudis "are starting to use their leverage—money."

Hersh's work first gained international recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.

His iconoclastic reports on the US military's Abu Ghraib prison scandal have also gained much attention.

Lebanon Game

The new division scheme is already being implemented in Lebanon.

"Extensive Sunni-Shiite conflict in Lebanon, similar to what is going in Iraq, is one of the main US goals now," Hersh told the tentative Egyptian audience.

"The game is to make sure that Shiites will get no more power inside Lebanon."

Since last summer, the Bush administration has publicly pledged a billion dollars in aid to the Lebanese government of Fuad Siniora, a Sunni.

Hersh said the US was collaborating with other players like "the Jordanian intelligence and Sunni jihadist groups" to undermine Hizbullah.

Political tensions have been running high in Lebanon for months, with the opposition holding an open-ended protest in Beirut aimed at forcing out the Western-backed government.

A brewing political crisis was deepened after the Shiite Hizbullah and Amal groups pulled out their four ministers, along with one Shiite and one Christian ally.

With no representatives of the Shiite population in the government, the opposition insists the government has lost its constitutional legitimacy.

Inevitable War

Hersh, who has maintained a world-wide iconic status in investigative reporting over the past three decades, believes that the Bush administration is intent on striking Iran.

"I think this administration will not leave the office without taking action against Iran," he told Egyptian reporters and students.

"They do not want to compromise."

He said the Pentagon has recently formed a special group to plan an attack against Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the president, within 24 hours.

"Reports are saying that targets inside Iran have been pinpointed already for the imminent strike," he added, ruling out employing troops for ground attacks.

"The plan will be limited to bombing. On ground battles could bring huge chaos."

The veteran journalist said the anticipated attack will go, as the case was in Iraq, with or without the UN authorization.

"This will go whether it was proved that Iran possesses nuclear weapons or not. This doesn't matter at all."

Senior diplomats at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency have told the Los Angeles Times Sunday that most of the US intelligence shared with the UN watchdog over Iran's nuclear program was unfounded and inaccurate.

The US and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran refutes the charge insisting that its program is for peaceful civilian use.

Washington has been upping the ante against Tehran recently, restoring to the same aggressive rhetoric that preceded its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Accusing Iran of providing weapons to Iraqi Shiite militias, Bush has beefed up the US military presence in the Gulf to its highest level since the Iraq war.

The Sunday Telegraph revealed Sunday that Washington was secretly funding militant separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to destabilize the regime.

Click hereto read Hersh's report in full.

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#7
RIYADH, IRAN FIGHT SUNNI-SHIITE STRIFE
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1172571543388&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout


"Fortunately we and the Saudis were fully aware of the threats of our enemies and we condemned them," said Ahmadinejad (L). (Reuters)

RIYADH — Regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to stem attempts to fuel Sunni-Shiite strife, following a report by an award-winning US investigative reporter that Washington was fanning the sectarian flames in the region.
"The two parties have agreed to stop any attempt aimed at spreading sectarian strife in the region," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters, Reuters said.

King Abdullah and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad affirmed that the greatest danger presently threatening the Muslim nation is the attempt to fuel the fire of strife between Sunnis and Shiites, reported the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Ahmadinejad, who had previously met King Abdullah at an Islamic summit in Makkah in December 2005, told reporters after returning to Tehran he discussed with the monarch "the plots carried out by the enemies in order to divide the world of Islam."

"Fortunately we and the Saudis were fully aware of the threats of our enemies and we condemned them," he added.

The Iranian leader did not specify who the enemies were. Iran's chief Western foe, the US, is one of Riyadh's closest allies.

Award-winning American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has revealed that Washington was sowing a flammable Sunni-Shiite divide to weaken the newly-bolstered Iranian role in the region.

He said the American plan is based on executing clandestine operations in Iran, Lebanon and Syria, where financial support is given to strengthen Sunni groups and weaken Shiites.

Hersh claimed the US and Saudi Arabia have joined hands in the scheme because they see Iran as an existential threat.

Stable Iraq

SPA said the Saudi and Iranian leaders also saw eye to eye on the importance of stabilizing chaos-mired Iraq.

"They affirmed that they were keen on preserving Iraq's independence, national unity and equality between its citizens," it said.

The two oil powerhouses have sought to contain differences over Iraq, which at one point saw Saudi Arabia accusing the US of effectively handing the country to Iran and triggered reports — swiftly denied by Riyadh — of possible Saudi intervention on behalf of Sunnis.

Both heavyweight countries along with Syria have accepted Iraq's invitation to a regional conference in March, to be attended by the US.

Saudi-Iranian ties have been strained over Tehran's growing influence in Iraq and its perceived backing of Shiite militias accused of committing atrocities against Sunnis.

Four years after the 2003 US invasion, Iraq has been gripped by a bloody sectarian violence, with more than a hundred people being killed on a daily basis.

Only last year, more than 34,000 civilians died in the raging sectarian violence that reached a peak in the capital Baghdad.

Iraq's sectarian bloodletting has sparked fears of a region-wide Sunni-Shiite conflict.

In the first high-profile meeting between top Sunni and Shiite scholars, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's influential Expediency Council, called on February 14 on Muslims worldwide to act in unison and take into their strides differences to face challenges ahead.

Volatile Lebanon

Lebanon has also severely tested ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which provides substantial financial aid to Beirut and has close links with the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

During the talks, Ahmadinejad reiterated support for the kingdom's efforts "to calm the situation in Lebanon and end its political crisis," according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He and King Abdullah expressed the hope that "all Lebanese sides will respond (positively) to these efforts."

Lebanon has been shaken to the bones by an opposition ministerial walkout and an open-ended protest demanding a national unity government or snap polls.

Riyadh and Tehran recently began working together to reduce tensions in the tiny Arab country.

According to Reuters, Saudi and Iranian officials have met several times in recent weeks to mediate between Lebanon's opposition and government.

But the talks, Saudi contacts with Washington and Paris as well as Iranian discussions with influential Syria, appear to have made little headway.

Nuclear Program

At his talks with King Abdullah, Ahmadinejad also voiced support for the Saudi-authored Arab peace initiative endorsed by the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002, SPA said without elaborating.

Under the plan, the Arab world would normalize ties with Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal from Arab land occupied since 1967 and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Ahmadinejad had said that Israel should be "wiped from the map" and is doomed to disappear.

There was no word, however, whether the two leaders discussed Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia champions a nuclear-free Middle East, but is also keen to avert a US-Iran military showdown which could destabilize the entire Gulf region.

Ahmadinejad's visit came at a time when his country is under intense Western pressure over its nuclear program.

The UN Security Council permanent five plus Germany agreed Saturday to send the issue of Iran's disputed nuclear program to their UN representatives, after failing to resolve differences.

The UN nuclear watchdog reported last week that Iran had failed to halt its uranium enrichment work and was even expanding its efforts in defiance of international demands.

Iran is denying seeking atomic weapons, and asserts it has a right to a peaceful nuclear program.

It vowed again last week never to yield to the West's demand for a freeze on uranium enrichment.


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#8
INDONESIA HOSTS SUNNI-SHIITE MEETING

Dandy Koswaraputra
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1175008823282&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

"We are concerned about it. Muslim Indonesia which does not have any problem with the two groups, can hopefully mediate the gap," said Rozi.

JAKARTA, April 2, 2007 — The Indonesian city of Bogor plays host Tuesday, April 3, to the International Sunni-Shiite Ulemas (scholars) conference, the first meeting of its kind in the predominantly Muslim country in an effort to bridge the Sunni-Shiite gap.
"We are concerned about it. Muslim Indonesia which does not have any problem with the two groups, can hopefully mediate the gap," Head of the Organizing Committee Rozi Munir told IslamOnline.net Monday,April 2.

Rozi, a former minister and currently the deputy chairman of the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said his country is keen on playing a pivotal role in ending Shiite-Sunni conflicts.

Pinning high hopes on the two-day conference, Rozi said his committee has been working behind the scenes to organize the meeting to make it a success.

"We intentionally set up it in silence to avoid controversy. That why we are holding the event remote from capital city," he said, referring to the city of Bogor, 65 kilometers from Jakarta.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is due to open the conference, which is held against a backdrop of mounting Shiite-Sunni tensions over the raging sectarian violence in Iraq, which kills dozens day in an day out in unquenched revenge attacks.

The Indonesian government has invited 25 Sunni and Shiite scholars from countries such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria, according to Rozi.

Iran's Participation

But Ahmad Suaedy, the head of an Indonesian delegation to the conference, predicted that Iran might snub the Indonesian invitation in protest at Jakarta's backing of UN Security Council resolution 1747 over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

"If Iran is absent then the meeting will be unsuccessful," said Ahmad, the chairman of the Wahid Institute, which was initiated by former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid to promote multiculturalism and inter-faith tolerance.

He said an Iranian boycott of the conference would make it " a merely ineffective discussion without any concrete consensus."

Besides, Suaedy said, the meeting would also be ineffective without inviting THE main Western players in the Middle East like the United States and European heavyweights.

Iraq's sectarian bloodletting has sparked fears of a region-wide Sunni-Shiite conflict.

In the first high-profile meeting between top Sunni and Shiite scholars, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's influential Expediency Council, called on February 14 on Muslims worldwide to act in unison and take into their strides differences to face challenges ahead.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Saudi Arabia early in March to ease Sunni-Shiite tensions.

In his meeting with King Abdulla Bin Abdel Aziz, Ahmadinejad have warned against "the plots carried out by the enemies in order to divide the world of Islam."

Award-winning American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has revealed that Washington was sowing a flammable Sunni-Shiite divide to weaken the newly-bolstered Iranian role in the region.


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#9
GADDAFI CALLS FOR UNIFIED CONTINENTAL ARMY

Wed, 04 Apr 2007
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=4939§ionid=3510202

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi urged Africa to form a unified continental army to defend its interests, and said former colonial powers should pay compensation for raw materials they had extracted.

In a fiery speech at a military parade in Dakar marking Senegal's National Day on Wednesday, Gaddafi said African nations have the right to demand reparations from their former colonial masters for the diamonds, gold and other resources they had pillaged, Reuters reported.

Military and political unity would help Africa resist any attempts to re-colonize it, the Libyan leader said.

"If we manage to unify all of Africa's armies in a single army, Africa will have such power," Gaddafi said.

"We must be strong so as not to be an easy prey for the colonizers," added the Libyan leader, standing beside Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade who was sworn in for a second term in office on Tuesday after winning elections last month.

Gaddafi, who often portrays himself as a champion of African unity, said the thousands of Africans who tried to migrate to Europe each year are merely following the route of the natural riches shipped out of Africa by European ex-colonial powers.

"Today, they contest our departure for Europe, they say it's illegal migration ... after they came from Europe and elsewhere to occupy Africa ... was that legal?" the Libyan leader raised the issue before the gathering.

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#10
GUEST EDITORIAL- ABU DHARR
      
http://www.muslimedia.com/abudhar208.htm

The Islamic Uprising in Iran a quarter of a century ago is too important and too special for Muslims to simply watch it wander from its original and true course. We remember all too clearly the impact this breakthrough had on Muslims everywhere. For the first time in modern history, Muslims had risen against a corrupt government and its imperialist and zionist sponsors, and were able to take control of their own country, and begin to show the rest of us how things should be done.

Of course, the road forward was not likely to be smooth. The sponsors of the Pahlavi regime could not be expected to sit and watch a people shape their own future on the basis of their Islamic faith and commitment. Throughout the last 25 years, America and Israel have been working to bring the Islamic government in Iran to its knees, with the support of their Western allies, Iran’s pro-Western neighbours and even supporters within Iran. Iran’s borders amount to some 8,000 kilometers; American troops are now based across six thousand kilometers of this border. This grim scenario has been gradually built over 25 years, and has passed almost unnoticed by most Muslims, and even most Iranians. There has never been any cessation of hostilities between the followers of the line of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), who refuse to compromise when it comes to the independence and sovereignty of the Islamic state, and the numerous other interests wanting to shape the state on their terms.

Part of our object in this new column is to look at some of the gaps that have developed since the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), many of which are rooted in earlier events, and how these gaps have caused serious problems about which we can no longer remain silent. But before we walk into this sensitive area, one point needs to be made absolutely clear. This is that none of the points we make are intended to express any criticism of Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, the successor to Imam Khomeini (r.a.) as Rahbar of the Islamic State. Many of the points we make will be highlighting natural processes in the evolution of post-Revolutionary state and society. Others will indeed involve criticism of errors and failures in Iran, mainly on the part of those who have been responsible for aspects of Iranian government and policy at the executive level. It was inevitable that such errors and failures should emerge over a quarter of a century in an unprecedented and highly-pressured historical situation; unfortunately they have contributed greatly to what many now see as the Islamic experiment’s current stagnation.

Sometimes frank statements of truth can be bitter pills to swallow; we hope no-one will consider this column to be too bitter a pill. We say what we say only to express our honest understanding of the issues. If we are correct, we appeal earnestly to Allah to accept our humble words to our humble readers. If not, we request Allah’s forgiveness and correction from anyone able to do so; without, we hope, descending into personal issues or hidden agendas. Ameen.

The importance of seeing the bigger picture behind the West’s political scheming
Something easy to get is easy to lose, as the Japanese say. Their neighbors the Chinese would say: the lone sheep is in danger of the wolf. The ancient wisdom of these people is not lost on Muslims of Imam Husain’s heritage. Our only Islamic Revolution and Islamic state (as imperfect as they appear from time to time) were not easy to come by; and therefore should not be easily relinquished. The Yahud, our main enemies in the world, know this very well. That is why now, behind the scenes, they are sharpening their weapons; the razor-sharp lancet that they are now working into the very heart of the Muslim Ummah is a narrow-minded adherence to party, sect or denomination by rudimentary “Shi‘is” and vestigial “Sunnis.” Unfortunately, they have found that such old feuds are easily revived and that Muslims are peculiarly open to this line of attack.

Muslims must beware! The zionist-imperialist camp are doing everything they can to thwart the achievement of the Islamic movement in Iran. Ever since its inception, this Islamic-established order has been a spear in the ribs of the zionist-imperialist body-politic. The memory of a benefit vanishes, but that of an injury sticks fast in the heart. Zionism and imperialism were injured in a mortal way by the first modern expression of an organized, institutionalized civic Islam that emerged a generation ago in Iran. The zionist-imperialist instigated war of aggression that Iraq waged on Islamic Iran in the 1980s delivered no tangible success; instead, its failure and its after-effects ensured that the USA and Israel – the main imperial power and the sole zionist state of the time – have been sucked into the cesspool that they themselves created in their reaction to the Islamic movement in Iran.

The inner circles of zionism and imperialism are doing all they can to bring Islamic Iran to its knees. These custodians of injustice, oppression and aggression are using their international organizations and regional agents to turn up the pressure, from international action via Interpol to seek the capture of “Iranian officials” and a “Hizbullah leader” whom they accuse of planning the bombing in 1994 of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, to the EU’s promotion of their Iranian flunkeys the so-called  “People’s Mujahideen of Iran” (PMOI – better known as the Munafiqeen-e-Khalq), to accusations that the Iranian government is “meddling in Iraq”.  Such political pin-pricks as the US raid on the Iranian consulate in Mosul, and the arrest of several Iranian officials working there, and the kidnapping of a senior Iranian official in Istanbul, followed by reports that he had “defected”, are parts of the same process, designed to add to the pressure on Iran, while also creating the perception of Iran in global public opinion as a “rogue state” deserving of attack.  Just last month, more than 5,000 delegates to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were on Capitol Hill to press US legislators to toughen US penalties on companies, banks and governments that trade with Islamic Iran.

In the meantime, Washington’s imperialists and Tel Aviv’s zionists have been steadily increasing their military presence in the countries and seas surrounding Islamic Iran, including the lackey states of the Arabian peninsula and the Persian Gulf.  But the economic warfare of the US has gone nowhere in the last four years, beyond further exposing the hostile nature of the regimes in the Holy Land [Israel] and in the hollow land [the US].  All of this and much more is only to be expected from such plunderers and exploiters as the zionists and imperialists. All of it will be dealt with by Islamic Iran and the Islamic movement in the real world, in real time. And the results will be to the disappointment of Henry Kissinger, Bernard Lewis and other “intellectuals” and “experts” whose ideas are providing the intellectual justifications for these ungodly policies, the modern equivalents of the “ulama-e sultan” in Muslim history.

The much greater problem is the virus of sectarianism in the hearts and minds of some Muslims. Because of what the regimes in Washington and Tel Aviv have managed to get away with so far in Iraq, many Muslims have been aroused to their “Sunni” and “Shi‘i” identity. We even have some intellectuals and analysts speaking about a Iraqi Shi‘i government along with the Sunni governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan! Since when have the kings and colonels of Riyadh, Cairo and Islamabad been “Sunni” in any meaningful sense of the word? The words “Sunni” and “Shi‘i” were virtually obsolete before this grand war against the Islamic state in Iran – now they are haunting the contemporary Muslim conscience!  Blessed were the days when we considered ourselves Muslims first, rather than these newly-found identities of “Shi’i” and “Sunni”, which have mutual antagonism built into them, thanks as much to the small-mindedness of many Muslims, ulama included, as to the gleeful manipulation of the likes of Bernard Lewis, Fouad Ajami, and Daniel Pipes. In this context a strong remedy for evils is simply to ignore them.  

All of this being said, let us not lose sight of the moving picture. And that is that the zionists and imperialists have their guns and missiles firmly trained on the Islamic base in Iran. Let us give them credit for having learned from their misjudgements of the 1980s. Now they know that firepower alone is not going to bring down an Islamic state. So what do they do? They try to turn the Muslims themselves against it by exploiting the element of Shi‘is vs. Sunnis. The broad strokes of the plan are not hard to see.  They take over Iraq and then begin to stir the sectarian pot as they have been doing in the past four years. The scenario that unfolds shows the “minority Sunnis” in Iraq being oppressed and victimized into surrender and humiliation by the autocracy of “Shi‘is”. This causes the majority “Sunni Muslims” outside of Iraq (or rather, the political leaders claiming to act in the name of Sunnis) to react by doing the same to the other side: the “minority Shi‘is” of Iran – a minority in the Muslim world and Ummah – are targeted in turn by a newly constituted front of “Sunni nation-states”, which in reality will be hand in glove with zionism and imperialism. And where does it go from here? If the Yahud and Nasara get their way, the Muslims of the world are being set up for a civil war that emerges from Iraq, with no visible end in sight.

Dr ‘Ali Shari‘ati was very discerning when he pointed to “Black Shi‘ism” and “Red Shi‘ism”, the former being the traditional and emotion-consuming practice of later “Shi‘i” generations, and the latter the revolutionary and justice-centered Shi‘ism of early generations. It is as if a few students of Bernard Lewis picked up on this and are setting events into motion. If we may borrow Shari‘ati’s insight, we may say that “Black Shi‘ism” is alive and kicking in Iraq with the help and support of imperialism and zionism. It has a course cut out for it and the results are catastrophic for all the Muslims; especially, ironically, those of Islamic Iran. Then we have Red Shi‘ism in Lebanon, which breathes and demonstrates the principles of justice, liberation and revolution. In Iran, meanwhile, we have elements of both: those who continue to follow the revolutionary line of Imam Khomeini, and those who effectively undermine the Islamic Revolution by harking back to Shi‘i traditionalism.  The writing is on the wall. This is becoming a fight for the soul of “Shi‘ism”, or even, to rise above sectarian analyses, a fight for and against the soul of Islam itself.

If events continue on their present course, it will become the responsibility of the Muslims who are capable of rising above the “Sunni-Shi‘i” discord to rescue the Ummah from this disastrous course: the good news being that there is ample evidence that many Muslims, both Sunni and Shi‘i, in all parts of the world, are succeeding in avoiding this pitfall being laid for us.

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