Det er en historie som gir håp for fremtiden. Fallujahs mest anserkjente religiøse overhode sto frem og ba folk stemme 15. desember, til tross for mange dødstrusler. Da han ikke «lystret», ble han meid ned av maskerte menn i en sølvgrå BMW – Zarqawis menn.
Nå vil befolkningen i Fallujah delta i protest, og gå mann av huse valgdagen.
THE grand mufti of Falluja, Sheikh Hamza Abbas al-Issawi, knew he was risking his life by urging worshippers to vote in Iraq’s elections this week and by preaching against terrorist violence.
Refusing to be intimidated, he intensified his rhetoric after receiving death threats from radical Islamists for criticising Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He challenged his shadowy enemies by declaring at prayers: «I know I am targeted.»
Death came to the 70-year-old grand mufti 12 days ago, when he was gunned down in front of his teenage son by three masked men in a silver BMW. Many inhabitants of Iraq’s «city of mosques» intend to honour his memory by casting their ballots on December 15.
Issawi was an influential scholar who castigated militants loyal to Zarqawi for «un-Islamic behaviour» and blamed them for provoking last year’s American military offensive against the city. He also encouraged local Sunnis to enrol in the police and military, fearing they could be needed to defend Falluja in a future sectarian war.
Despite advice from friends and family not to attend dawn and evening prayers, Issawi insisted he was a man of God who would not be cowed. «He believed that Allah protected people and not bodyguards,» a close friend said.