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Baghdad Under Daytime Curfew, Qaradawi Urges Restraint
BAGHDAD, February24 , 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – As calls mounted for restraint over sectarian tension in the war-torn country, Iraq has imposed a daytime curfew on Friday, February24 , in an effort to stop series of sectarian attacks sparked by the bombing of a celebrated Shiite shrine.
"No one should move," one government source said of the curfew, which was announced on state television, Reuters reported.
"Police will detain anyone who goes out, even to go to prayers."
The curfew took effect from 2000 ( 1700GMT) on Thursday, February23 , and will be in place until 1600 ( 1300GMT) on Friday.
It encompassed Baghdad and the provinces of Diyala, Babil and Salaheddine.
The shutdown is expected to be re-imposed from Friday evening until Saturday morning.
An overnight curfew enforced over the past two days, which on Wednesday, February22 , had already been extended by three hours, was further extended till4 : 00pm ( 1300GMT) on Friday in the four provinces.
Civilian flights from Baghdad airport were cancelled.
The move comes following the killing of at least 130 people in reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques and people triggered by the bombing attack that destroyed the golden dome of Imam Ali Al-Hadi shrine, one of Iraq's most famous Shiite religious places, Wednesday.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, the highest Sunni religious authority in Iraq, has blamed some Shiite authorities of fueling the latest sectarian tension.
Muslim scholars have renewed calls for restraint and calm following the latest series of the reprisal assaults in anarchy-mired Iraq.
"These developments augur ill for Iraq and spell a devastating civil war, which would neither serve the Sunnis or Shiites. It only serves the US occupation of Iraq and the Zionist enemy," respected Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by IslamOnline.net.
"Islam forbids attacks on mosques, shrines, scholars and on Muslims in general.
"The angry Shiite reaction over the shrine bombing could spark Sunni reprisals, which would only aggravate the situation," added the statement.
Qaradawi questioned who would benefit from the bombing of the Shiite shrine.
"It is unimaginable that the Sunnis, who guarded the shrine for long years, to bomb it."
The Muslim scholar urged both Shiites and Sunnis to work together to bring the situation under control before it is too late.
"They must join hands and stand against inciters," he stressed.
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi also joined calls for restraint, condemning attacks on religious places in Iraq.
"These practices are rejected and cannot be accepted," he told a meeting of the World Islamic Council for Da`wah and Aid.
Iraq's Shiite leaders also urged Iraqis to observe unity and avoid sectarian strife in the Muslim country.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has urged Shiite and Sunni religious leaders to preach for unity and peace in their Friday sermons.
"We must take advantage of Friday sermons to guide the people and speak out in favor of unity," Jaafari said following a meeting with Sunni religious leader Ahmad Abdel Ghaffur Al-Samarrai and Shiite leader Sabah Al-Haidari.
Young Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr and Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, leader of the Shiite Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, joined calls for restraint.
On Thursday, Al-Sadr has ordered the protection of the Sunni mosques in the predominantly Shiites areas against reprisal attacks.