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Shia cleric: Iraq Christians ‘infidels who must convert or be killed’

Image of Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi [Twitter]
Image of Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi [Twitter]

Almost 200 Iraqi Christian families filed a lawsuit against the head of Iraq’s Shia Endowment, Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi, on charges of incitement of sectarian violence against Christians after he used rhetoric reminiscent of extremist group Daesh and called for religious minorities to either convert to Islam or be killed.

Al-Mousawi, who is in charge of the government body which maintains all of Iraq’s Shia holy sites, including mosques, Huseiniyas and schools, sparked anger as he declared Christians to be “infidels” during a religious sermon he gave in southern Iraq, according to local media.

The senior government appointed Shia cleric described the Christians as “infidels and polytheists” and stressed the need for “jihad” against them. He has also said that “Jews and Christians” must be fought and killed if they do not accept Islam, with the same fate awaiting Zoroastrians as well as Sabians, another Iraqi religious community.

In a video from the religious sermon, Al-Mousawi can clearly be seen inciting against Christians and other minorities:

Either they convert to Islam, or else they are killed or they pay the jizya [a tax on non-Muslims.

Many have accused him of imitating the rhetoric of Daesh extremists by stating that Iraqi Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax on non-Muslims known as the jizya, or else be killed.

In 2014, Daesh imposed the exact same conditions on Christians in Iraq’s northern provinces, forcing more than 100,000 to leave their homes in fear for their lives. One of the oft-cited reasons behind the western intervention against Daesh was the risk they posed to not only Christians, but other religious minorities including the Yazidis.

Senior European Christian leaders denounced Daesh for threatening Christian communities in Iraq – one of the country’s oldest communities – with clerics such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, adding an Arabic “N” to his Twitter profile in solidarity with Iraq’s Christians.

So far, no western official has commented on one of Iraq’s most senior government Shia clerics issuing the same threats as Daesh, despite Iraq being a key ally in the fight against the extremist group that has persecuted all religious groups in the war-ravaged country since 2014.

Al-Mousawi has responded by sending a delegation from the Endowment to the Babylonian Christian Movement to mediate the lawsuit and the allegations that his comments have mirrored Daesh’s extremist rhetoric.

Iraq’s Shia clerical establishment as well as its numerous Shia jihadist militias have long been accused of religious extremism, having perpetrated numerous sectarian atrocities against the Sunni Arab community as well as other minority groups.

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  • Fasdunkle

    “Many have accused him of imitating the rhetoric of Daesh extremists by stating that Iraqi Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax on non-Muslims known as the jizya, or else be killed”

    That was standard policy during the 1300 years of the islamic colonialist era – it comes from the colonial manual, the koran 9:29. For some of the islamic colonial period it was the main source of revenue for the imperialist coffers and one of the main reasons why people converted to islam (to avoid having to pay it)

    • Helen4Yemen

      Deuteronomy 20: 10-15 Before you attack a town that is far from your land, offer peace to the people who live there. If they surrender and open their town gates, they will become your slaves. But if they reject your offer of peace and try to fight, surround their town and attack. Then, after the Lord helps you capture it, kill all the men. Take the women and children as slaves and keep the livestock and everything else of value.

      Deuteronomy 20: 16 Whenever you capture towns in the land the Lord your God is giving you, be sure to kill all the people and animals. 17 He has commanded you to completely wipe out the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 18 If you allow them to live, they will persuade you to worship their disgusting gods, and you will be unfaithful to the Lord.

  • Retaliation

    Sounds quite insignificant when the top clerics in Najaf don’t agree with him and when no one really acts based on what he saied, besides I don’t really see any reports of Shia killing minorities….
    christians and sabba and others live freely and openly practice they’re religioun in southern Iraq. This article while probably credible is pointing to the anomalies and the intention seems to be sectarian…
    While we’re at it, let’s report more about the Saudi clerics calling for the killing of Shia muslims, a call that resonates with the actions of Daesh and materialized in the actual killing of thousands…

    • Helen4Yemen

      Excellent comment …this blog is one of the worst that I have come across when it comes to Shia bias and hatred. I wonder who owns this blog … perhaps worth spending some time finding out who this Sunni is who is so obsessed with Shia hatred? He has got to be a Sunni … what else can explain his focusing his hatred on all Shia people? He cannot be one of the foreign predators now in Palestine, because they hate all Muslims.

  • Helen4Yemen

    This website is so sectarian and so biased against the Shia of the world that people must keep that in mind when reading their anti-Shia inflammatory headlines. There are far worse speeches by the Sunni clerk. This man’s life is not worth the life of a cockroach, he is totally ignorant and a worthless menace. But there were no Shia ruling over Iraq, there were no ISIS. Who was responsible for the war on Iraq?

    The Iraq war and ‘Greater Israel

    Here is from Ari Shavit – Haaretz – March 4, 2003

    “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them JEWISH, almost all of them intellectuals people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history
    a partial list:

    Richard Perle,
    Paul Wolfowitz,
    Douglas Feith,
    William Kristol,
    Eliot Abrams,
    Charles Krauthammer “

  • Helen4Yemen


    I sent this email to the people listed below. Everyone must do their duty to sound the alarm when we come across deliberate peddling of lies to cause sectarian hatred. This small bit of information that I found at Wikipedia really explains why there is such intense and relentless drive to malign and to smear the Shia people whether Iran or Hezbollah or Houthis.

    “The staff and contributors of MEMO include Daud Abdullah, Ibrahim Hewitt and Ben White. One of MEMO’s honorary advisers is Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford University lecturer and grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna.”

    Here is the email that I sent:

    Hello: I am a regular commentator at the Middle East Monitor and I am now writing to you to let you know how offended I am that MEMO is in the habit of peddling lies and misinformation with the intent of spreading sectarian hatred against the Shia people. I am not Shia but someone who seeks to find peace between the two Islamic sects. Do you really believe that the enemies of Islam care if one is Sunni or Shia? If you seek to liberate Palestine from predatory foreign Europeans, it will be impossible to do so while sectarian conflict is tearing the Islamic world apart. Muslims have spent so much of their energy and wealth killing other Muslims instead of focusing their attention on the foreign enemy. Iran has not exhibited any aggression towards its neighbors, Iran is not known to rain bombs on innocent Muslims as the European predators often do. I wish I could understand how people could hate other people simply because their religion is different from theirs. I am appealing to you to stop your outrageous and inflammatory headlines meant to incite violence or hatred against the Shia people.

    Dr Daud Abdullah daud@memonitor*org*uk
    Ibrahim Hewitt ibrahim@memonitor*org*uk
    Ben White ben@memonitor*org*uk

  • Werner Nishtiman

    why highlight the shia/sunni fights? why not focus on what the cleric said, and the threat to non-muslim minorities?

  • Davud Hussein

    If this doesnt prove that islam is a death cult, nothing will, if you know your history what this fool says is exactly what Mohammad preached and practiced and the same is true with isis. It is what islam is all about