BAKU: Azeri spiritual leader denounces “destruction of shrines” in I

Azeri spiritual leader denounces “destruction of shrines” in Iraq

ANS TV, Baku
20 May 04

(Inserting missing words “religious rites” in third paragraph. A
corrected version of the item follows:)

[Presenter] The chairman of the Board of the Muslims of the Caucasus
[BMC], Sheikh ul-Islam Allahsukur Pasazada, issued a statement on the
destruction of the holy shrines of the Muslims in military operations
in Iraq.

[Correspondent over video of Pasazada] The destruction of the holiest
shrine of the world Shi’is, the Imam Ali mosque, by US troops, should
not only worry the Muslim states.

[Pasazada] In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. We
would not like it if our shrines were the targets of fire, and were
destroyed or damaged. I am calling on both sides, the Western states,
if they want to earn the respect of the Muslim world, and restore
democracy there, they should those religious rites and holiest shrines
[as received – changes tack] because, today Imam Ali [the Lord of
the Faithful, the first Shi’i imam] not only belongs to Shi’is, he
is the greatest pearl for the world. Pasazada considers that what is
going in Iraq is also affecting Azerbaijan’s interests.

[Pasazada] There is a cemetery and currently military operations
are underway near it, tanks are around, there is destruction, may
be, there Azeris lay there too, there lie the tombs of our greatest
ancestors. If we speak about Karbala, we should also think of [Azeri
poet of 16th century, Mahammad] Fizuli.

[Correspondent] The sheikh fears that the Iraqi people, waiting for
democracy, may be facing a blood-stained democracy and this gift may
rebound on the coalition forces.

[Pasazada] Together with the killings of people, people’s confidence
is also lost, i.e. those forces which say I want to come with democracy
[changes tack], every such bullet means a weakening of democracy. Every
bit of damage, every single bullet, fired at the shrines of Imam Ali,
Prophet Husayn, every single step against it [changes tack], I call
it a stick democracy.

[Correspondent] The chairman of the Board of the Muslims of the
Caucasus (BMC), Sheikh ul-Islam Allahsukur Pasazada, has already spoken
to the US ambassador to Azerbaijan about these issues. He called on the
coalition forces to observe peace and the Muslims to show solidarity.

[Pasazada] There is another point that worries me deeply. The voice
of these democracies is coming from Iraq, it may come from Syria
tomorrow and other places. Because its foundation was laid in Xocali
[Azeri settlement razed to the ground by Armenian and Russian troops
in 1992]. However, there was no support from the Arab states, they
did not say that I missed such [tragedy] in Xocali and it hit you. Now
we do not know whom it will hit after Iraq.

[Correspondent] The sheikh added that together with the holiest
shrines, Iraq is in need of repair, both from statehood and a spiritual
point of view.

Zamina Aliyeva, Elxan Huseynov for ANS.

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