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Sunnis: Mosques closed to protest attacks

by SINAN SALAHEDDIN Associated Press on November 23, 2013 10:09 AM

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Sunni religious leaders said today that they have decided to close down the sect’s mosques in Baghdad indefinitely to protest attacks targeting clerics and worshippers, highlighting the country’s deepening sectarian rift.

Sheik Mustafa al-Bayati, member of the Iraqi Doctrine Council where senior Sunni scholars sit to issue religious edicts, says the decision was taken on Thursday and came into effect today.

Many mosques appeared to comply with the closure. At Baghdad’s Sunni northern district of Azamiya, a banner at the closed gate of the hallowed Abu Hanifa mosque read: “The mosque is closed until further notice because of the targeting of imams, preachers and worshippers.”

Sunnis have closed mosques previously as a protest tactic, in the southern province of Basra in September and in the northeastern province of Diyala early this month. In both cases, mosques reopened later after local authorities and tribal leaders promised to offer protection.

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