Radical Shi'ite head al-Sadr returns to Iraq

February 26, 2006 13:21

Radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq on Sunday, calling for unity among Muslims following an explosion at a holy Shi'ite shrine and a wave of reprisal attacks against Sunnis. "I call upon all believers, Sunnis and Shi'ites, to unite. All Iraqis should be brothers to each other," al-Sadr said. Militiamen loyal to al-Sadr are believed to have taken part in reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques after the bombing Wednesday of the Shiite Askariya shrine in the central city of Samarra. Al-Sadr called for a stop to such attacks Sunday, saying: "There is no such thing as Sunni or Shi'ite mosques. The mosques are for all Iraqi people and for all Muslims." He also proposed a joint demonstration of Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Baghdad to demonstrate solidarity, demand the withdrawal of occupying forces and denounce the acts of extremists. Al-Sadr was in Lebanon, his fifth stop on a Middle East tour, when the crisis started Wednesday. He cut short the visit and made his way back to Iraq via Iran.

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