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Asia

2003-09-03

ASIA/IRAQ - IRAQ IS A GAMBLING TABLE WHERE EVERYONE WANTS TO PLAY AND EVERYONE WANTS TO WIN, EVEN AT THE COST OF MASS MURDER, SAYS IRAQI CATHOLIC PRIEST FATHER NIZAR

Rome (Fides Service) – “Together with the entire nation I want to express my grief over the assassination of Ayatollah Al Hakim” Iraqi Catholic priest Father Nizar in Ninive, northern Iraq tells Fides Service, commenting the death of Ayatollah Al Hakim main Iraqi Shiite leader in a bomb explosion in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.
“It was only months since Ayatollah Al Hakim returned to Iraq – Father Nizar recalls - after 23 years in exile in Iran. The scene of his arrival broadcast by the media was similar to Khomeini’s return to Iran. He was welcomed by the crowds as one who brought salvation to the majority (Shiites) which for thirty years was subjected to the government of the Sunny minority. These were thirty long years of fierce struggle against the Baath Party which represented a minority thirsting for power and money”.
“However Al Hakim failed to realise that Iraq today is not the Iraq he left 23 years ago” says Father Nizar. “Today Iraq is an open field where everyone wants to play, everyone wants a central role and the struggle for supremacy is fierce even among Shiite leaders themselves. In this unhealthy climate Al Hakim attempted to re-launch his project for a new Iraq speaking openly to everyone of his dream, which is the dream of every Ayatollah: an Islamic Iraq like neighbouring Iran, a school from which Al Hakim has undoubtedly learned much. But in actual fact the only solution to Iraq’s problems is an Iraq of democracy where there room for everyone”.
“The people of Iraq need above all to hear words of hope and confidence and to see concrete signs of the building of a better future. Today Iraqis are in need of everything: food, medicines, water, electricity” the priest explains.
With regard to the perpetrators of the religious leader’s assassination, Father Nizar says: “It is difficult to connect any individual or group with such a crime. As an Iraqi I think the episode is strictly Shiite; it is probably a leadership clash for control in the new Iraq.”

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