Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Scotsman (UK): More than 1,000 Sunni clerics in Iraq issued a fatwa yesterday, telling members of their minority Muslim community to vote in tomorrow's elections. The call came as violence marred the last day of campaigning, with one candidate killed and another narrowly escaping an assassination attempt. Most Sunnis boycotted the elections to an interim parliament on 30 January. But Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie, who heads the government agency in charge of the maintaining Sunni mosques and shrines, said: "This is a fatwa from more than 1,000 Iraqi scholars who are urging Iraqis to vote."


Nancy Yousef, Knight-Ridder: Election will set a course for Iraq. Plastered on the pervasive blast walls that protect buildings on nearly every major thoroughfare in Baghdad are dozens of poster-sized ads in rows, aimed at winning over passing motorists. Some have pictures of smiling politicians, while others show stone-faced religious leaders whose dogma could shape the next government. Iraqis will head to the polls Thursday for a National Assembly election that could offer a last chance to move a country that's rife with sectarian division and violence toward reconciliation and stability. If all works well, the elections might pave the way toward starting an orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops. [...]

Times of India: In a rare joint statement, al-Qaida in Iraq and four other Islamic extremist groups denounced the election as a 'satanic project' and said that "to engage in the so-called political process" violates "the legitimate policy approved by God." The groups vowed to "continue our jihad (holy war) ... to establish an Islamic state ruled by the book (the Quran) and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad".