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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05BAGHDAD4425 2005-10-27 11:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

(C) KURDISH TNA MEMBER'S MOSQUE SPEECHES SILENCED

Tags:   PGOV PHUM KDEM IZ 
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1. Summary. According to TNA member Ahmed Wahab
Majeed, the Kurdish Ministry of Awqaf and Religious
Affairs informed him that he could no longer be an
imam in his mosque in Irbil. The Ministry's decision
is purportedly based on Article 28(A) that states that
TNA members "may not be appointed to any other
position in or out of government." Ahmed Wahab is a
critic of government corruption countrywide, so this
is not the first time that he has run afoul of the
authorities with his mosque speeches. However, the
KRG seems to have found a legal provision in the TAL
that requires him to withdraw from his imam position.
End Summary



2. (C) TNA and Constitutional Committee member Ahmed
Wahab Majeed told Poloff on October 19 that the
Kurdish Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, under
the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), sent him a
letter on August 17 informing him that he can no
longer be an imam in his mosque in Irbil. The letter
reportedly tells him that, as an Assembly member, he
cannot have more than one government position.



3. (U) Article 28(A) of the TAL states, "Members of
the National Assembly ... may not be appointed to any
other position in or out of government." In Iraq, the
Ministry of Awqaf appoints the imams of many (but not
all) mosques and pays their salaries. The Kurdish
Ministry of Awqaf maintains a similar role in the
Kurdish region.



4. (C) Ahmed Wahab said he has been talking in
general terms about government corruption countrywide
in his mosque speeches. He said that as a Muslim, he
must speak out on these issues.



5. (C) Ahmed Wahab is a member of the Kurdistan
Islamic Union party, which is part of the Kurdish
Alliance and which has six seats in the TNA and nine
in the Kurdistan National Assembly (KNA), the Kurdish
regional parliament. According to him, the Kurdish
Ministry of Awqaf issued a similar letter to Kurdistan
Islamic Union Party member Anwar Muhammad Ghafur, an
imam in Irbil who is also a member of the KNA.



6. (C) According to Ahmed Wahab, this is the third
such time that he has been ordered to be silent in the
mosque: first under Saddam Hussein, when he was an
imam at a mosque in Baghdad in the 1980s, and second
from 1999 until 2003, when he was an imam in Irbil.



7. (C) Comment. We know of at least one other
practicing mosque imam in the TNA - Shia cleric Jalal
ad-Din as-Sagheer from the popular Baratha mosque in
north Baghdad. We know of no effort to compel him to
resign his position at the Baratha mosque. The KRG's
tougher line stance, by contrast, may result from its
trying to separate religion and state more clearly;
the Kurdish authorities are wary of Islamist influence
in government. It may also result from a KRG desire
to stifle a critic of government corruption. Ahmed
Wahab stressed to us that he attacks corruption
nationally, not just in Kurdistan. The KRG may feel
that it cannot order him directly not to preach, as it
did in 1999. Instead, the KRG seems to have found a
legal provision in the TAL that appears to require
that Wahab not continue to hold his imam position.
Satterfield