Iran says will not hesitate to defend Iraq’s Shi’ite holy sites

By Reuters Staff
June 19, 2014
(Shi'ite Muslims attend a religious ritual at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

(Shi’ite Muslims attend a religious ritual at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

Iran will not hesitate to defend Shi’ite Muslim holy sites in neighbouring Iraq against “killers and terrorists”, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, following rapid advances by Sunni militants there over the past week.

Speaking on live television, Rouhani said many people had signed up to go to Iraq to defend the sites and “put the terrorists in their place”. He added that veteran fighters from Iraq’s Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish communities were also “ready for sacrifice” against these militant forces.

“Regarding the holy Shia shines in Karbala, Najaf, Khadhimiya and Samarra, we announce to the killers and terrorists that the big Iranian nation will not hesitate to protect holy shrines,” he said, speaking to a crowd on a visit to western Lorestan province.

“These terrorist groups, and those that fund them, both in the region and in the international arena, are nothing, and hopefully they will be put in their own place.”

Rouhani said on Saturday Iran had never dispatched any forces to Iraq and it was very unlikely it ever would. Western diplomats suspect Iran has in the past sent some of its Revolutionary Guards, a hardline force that works in parallel with the army, to advise the Iraqi army or its militia allies.

Iraqi Shi’ite and Sunni political leaders made a joint call for national unity on Tuesday after a closed-door meeting called after a week of sectarian violence that saw Sunni militants seize northern cities.

(Iraqi Shiites flood the streets around Imam Hussein shrine in the Holy City of Karbala September 29, 2004. Thousands of Shiites arrived on Thursday in the central Iraqi city of Karbala to celebrate the birth of Imam Ali, one of the most revered Shiite holy men. REUTERS/Faleh Kheiber )

(Iraqi Shiites flood the streets around Imam Hussein shrine in the Holy City of Karbala September 29, 2004. REUTERS/Faleh Kheiber )

via Iran says will not hesitate to defend Iraq holy sites | Reuters.

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It would be nice if Iran showed the same consideration for the property of the Bahia’s. Iran is responsible the desecration of their grave sites, not just by vandals but by the government. Recently Iran’s Revolutionary Guards began excavating a Baha’i cemetery that is the resting place for 10 women the government hanged in 1983. They were convicted of “crimes” that included teaching children’s classes. The women chose to die rather than renounce their faith.

Taking their cue from the regime and media, extremists have attacked Baha’i property in several cities. In August 2013, following months of interrogation, a local Baha’i leader, Ataollah Rezvani, was killed for his faith. No one has been charged with his murder.
In the face of these abuses, the U.S. should recognize that when it comes to human rights and religious freedom, Mr. Rouhani has yet to bring reform. Second, Washington must ponder the implications of Baha’i persecution. The Baha’is threaten no one; religious dictates and doctrine alone drive their persecution. Baha’i repression confirms Tehran’s theocratic character and suggests that change won’t come easily.

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