The International Federation of Muslim Scholars condemned a call by the Grand Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to take up arms against Sunni rebels in Iraq.
The Doha-based federation said in a statement Saturday that what is happening in Iraq is "a revolution by the Sunnis against injustice and exclusion of the people who long for freedom and reject to live in humiliation." It stressed that the rebels do not only include ISIL fighters, but all Sunnis across Iraq who rose up against injustice.
The statement also stressed that the uprising is not against the Shia, but rather for the sake of regaining the legitimate rights of Sunnis. "The biggest proof [that the uprising does not target Shia] is that no single Shia civilian has been killed, and Shia neighborhoods have not been attacked."
The federation, led by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, slammed "sectarian fatwas which call on Iraqis to fight one another," in reference to a call by al-Sistani to take up arms against the Sunnis. "Such calls would lead to a destructive civil war that would fragment Iraqi social and tribal fabric."
The federation called on Iraqis to stop the bloodshed and to start a comprehensive reconciliation process that would lead to the formation of national unity government to salvage the country.
The statement blamed Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki for the current dilemma, accusing him of failing to achieve any stability or security, and failing to bring about national unity. On the contrary, the statement added, al-Maliki's government misused military force in a manner which led to the current deadlock.
The statement added that the federation had previously called on Iraqi officials to fulfill the demands of Sunni protesters, but they resorted to security crackdown instead. "Had Sunni grievances been addressed through wise policies away from sectarianism and exclusion, we would have never ended up in this scenario," the statement added.