(Najaf - Azzaman)
The Marji'iyah (senior Shia clerics) of the Najaf Hawza gave a joint response to what Hassan Nasrallah, the General Secretary of Lebanese Hezbollah, had said in his Friday sermon with regard to the situation in Najaf and Karbala. The statement was signed with the collective name of Ulemma of the Hawza Al-Ilmiyyah of Najaf and Karbala and excerpts from it were given to Azzaman (Translation courtesy of Michael Subotin):
1. It is the movement of Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr that is losing legitimacy in the strictest sense, and not the one led by Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani, the overall, most learned and assidious Marji' of Iraq and not the rest of the Marji's, not even Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Kadhum Al-Ha'eri, nor other people of fortitude and experience in the field of politics who are seared by the fire of the Iraqi crisis and its complications wrought by Muslim brethren from well-known Islamic political movements and organizations, nor others besides them, people of judgement, experience and education, engaged in political affairs.
2. It is the movement of Sayyid Muqtada that has encouraged the occupiers to cross the red lines. And as aside from that, the American occupiers while storming into Iraq and marching towards Baghdad through Najaf and Karbala did not commit the stupidities and insolence with regard to the sanctities in the two holy cities they have committed now.
3. And it is clear that the organization of Sayyid Muqtada - and whoever follows the Sadrist movement - were the first to violate the sanctity of the yard of Haydari Shareef (Imam Ali's shrine in Najaf) when they fired shots inside it at Sayyid Abdul Majeed Al-Kho'ei and killed Sayyid Yasiri within it and wounded Sayyid Majeed and killed Sayyid Hayder Al-Kelidar afterwards. And they are the very same who ignited the fuse of the bloody fight, whose victims among gathered believers were sacrificed over control of the shrine of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him), and it is possible for our lord [Nasrallah] to verify the former by asking his Excellence the Marji' Ayatollah Sheikh Ishaq Al-Fayyadh and from the sons of his Excellence the Marji' Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sa'eed Al-Hakim and the latter with the help of his Excellence Sheikh 'Abdul Mahdi Al-Karbala'i, the representative of the Marji'iyah in Karbala and from his Excellence Sayyid Muhammad Ridha Al-Sistani [the son of Grand Ayatollah Sistani] in person.
4. The organization of Sayyid Muqtada is now carrying out intimidation of the general public and arrests of citizens, not only those whom they call collaborators with the occupation, the police, owners of stores selling foodstuffs to occupiers and others, but also students of religious sciences opposed to them and some of the members of the Badr organization [SCIRI], in addition to raiding offices of the Da'wa party in Kufa, and you can verify the former by asking his Excellence Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Al-Asifi, his Excellence Sheikh Muhammad Hadi Al Radhi, and his Excellence Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqubi, and the latter by asking his Excellence Sayyid Omar Al-Hakim and Dr. Ibrahim Al-Ja'fari [GC member].
5. The firing of shots at the great dome of the shrine of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) [in Najaf], according to some specialists was most likely from the weapons of Sayyid Muqtada's followers and not from the weapons of others, inasmuch as the time of shooting was the day fighting flared up in the Valley of Peace cemetery, and there wasn't any fighting from the side of Alnabi street, whereas you claimed in your important sermon that the direction of the shooting was from the side of the Qibla gate [to the shrine], which is the side of Alnabi street.
6. The strike on the home and office of his Excellence Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani happened within the security perimeter whose every span was controlled by the organization of Sayyid Muqtada, and the office of Marji' Ali [Sistani] was in the immediate proximity to the center of the security perimeter of Sayyid Muqtada's organization [office], well guarded, and especially so in the vicinity of both of their offices, and so how can it be conceived - and you being an expert in these matters - that this stringent security perimeter was breached by an unknown organization, which carried out a protracted strike on the home of the Sayyid Marji' [Sistani] and then retreated without the cognizance of the organization of Sayyid Muqtada.