Iraq PM orders end to religious property transfer

The decision came after an attack against the Shia endowment's offices that killed 25.

Afp June 06, 2012

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki called on Wednesday for an end to property transfers between the country's religious foundations, after an attack against the Shia endowment's offices killed 25.

Monday's suicide car bombing of the Shia foundation's headquarters in Baghdad came amid a dispute between the Sunni and Shia endowments, which run Iraq's religious sites, over the management of a revered Shia shrine in a Sunni city north of the capital.

"The prime minister ordered a stop to the transfer of properties that belong to the Shia and Sunni endowments, and called on each side that feels it is wronged to seek recourse in the federal courts," a statement from Maliki's office said.

The statement, issued after the premier held a joint meeting with the heads of the Sunni and Shia endowments, added that Maliki ordered that all Shia and Sunni mosques and shrines maintain their current administrations.

On Monday, a suicide car bomb targeting the Shia endowment in central Baghdad killed at least 25 people and wounded more than 65.

A day later, the Shia endowment blamed Sunni extremists cooperating with "countries which do not want good for Iraq."

The Shia endowment had said in the immediate aftermath of Monday's attack that it received threats because of a dispute over the al Askari shrine, a Shia mausoleum in the mostly Sunni city of Samarra.

The iconic gold-domed shrine was hit by a brutal al Qaeda suicide attack in February 2006 that ignited bloody confessional violence.

Shia endowment officials had produced documents that attributed the management of the shrine to the Shia foundation, sparking tensions with its Sunni counterpart.

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