Iraq, Saudi agree to monitor sectarian fatwas



Iraq has long complained that fellow Arab countries are not doing enough to help end sectarian violence there — a complaint backed by Washington.


Sunni Muslim insurgents fighting the U.S.-backed Iraqi government and U.S. forces regularly attack Shi’ite targets. Some of the insurgents have been Saudis whose al Qaeda radical Sunni ideology despises Shi’ites. In turn Shi’ite militias attack Sunni targets.


"We emphasised monitoring fatwas (religious edicts) that support this element (militants) … and gives religious
justification for their acts," Mowaffak al-Rubaie told Okaz newspaper, citing agreements signed in meetings in Saudi Arabia last week with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz.


Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, sees itself as the bastion of Sunni Islam but some clerics in its powerful religious establishment have issued opinions declaring Shi’ites to be heretics. Saudi Arabia has a Shi’ite minority.


Saudi authorities fear Saudi militants fighting in Iraq could return to fight the U.S.-allied monarchy, which has faced its own al Qaeda campaign of violence since May 2003.


Rubaie said Iraqi courts had passed sentences against 160 Saudis since 2003, when U.S.-led forces toppled the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein in an invasion. He said "hundreds" were awaiting trial.
"We learned that a great number of those who have been duped (into fighting) in Iraq are Saudis, who entered from a certain neighbouring country," Rubaie said. "When they train in Iraq, they could return to the kingdom … and threaten civilians."


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