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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 August, 2003, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Ayatollah Hakim's last sermon
Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim giving a sermon prior to his death
Ayatollah Hakim had warned of attacks on Shia leaders
Here are extracts from the sermon delivered by the leading Shia Muslim politician, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, prior to his death in a car bomb attack in the holy city of Najaf in Iraq.

The first act carried out by the criminal Baathists when they came to power in Iraq is that they attacked the religious authority Imam al-Hakim. Afterwards, they began killing the religious authorities one after another... This targeting is not new...

It is true that the followers of the old regime were attacking the religious authorities directly, but then they changed their policy to one of infiltration, falsification, deception and misleading. This policy is still being followed.

They have penetrated different groups, under various titles, in order to carry out these attacks. We have to realise that the followers of the defunct regime are behind this act.

Condemns coalition forces

The fourth point to which we should pay attention is the responsibility of the occupation forces for these attacks. The occupation forces did not carry out their legal and real duties to protect the religious authority and the holy places. This is to be condemned. We condemn this stance by the occupation forces.

Moreover, the occupation forces have not carried out their duties to protect the international organisations such as the headquarters of the United Nations in Baghdad. The UN headquarters also faced this kind of aggression.

We have seen that there is no security in this country. The occupation forces thus far have tried to achieve security but they failed to do so.
They have also not provided protection to the diplomatic organisations such as the foreign embassies in Baghdad. Preventing such attacks is the responsibility of the occupation forces and they should carry out their responsibilities.

What is more important with regard to the responsibilities of the occupation forces is that since the first day I came to Iraq, even before I came to Iraq, I have been saying ... that you [the occupation forces] should give the Iraqis the opportunity to protect the holy places and the religious authority.

We do not need you or your forces. The Iraqis are capable of protecting themselves, their religious authority, and their holy places...

Holy site protection

We call for the formation of a religious, faithful and committed Iraqi force. This force would protect the religious authorities and the holy places in Iraq.

The Americans, British or the foreigners should not approach these holy places and the people would not allow them to do so. Therefore, an Iraqi force should do this.

We believe that this issue is important and necessary. Some steps have been taken in this regard in Al-Najaf and we encourage such steps. We hope and call for taking such steps in all centres and holy sites in Iraq. We should pay attention to this matter.

The last point in this regard is the security issue in Iraq in general. I am not only talking about providing security for the religious authority and the holy sites. We have seen that there is no security in this country.

The occupation forces thus far have tried to achieve security but they failed to do so. They will continue to face failure, as I said earlier...

Iraqi government formation

The security responsibility should be given to the Iraqis themselves. They have a better understanding of what is taking place in their country. The Iraqi people would only co-operate with Iraqi security services to achieve security. If the security services are foreign, the Iraqi people would not co-operate with them.

The old regime was dealing with the security issue through oppression and acts of aggression. We cannot practice what the old regime was practising. So, what is the best way?

The best way is to form Iraqi security services that the Iraqi people would co-operate with in order to solve the security problem. We should join efforts in order to return full sovereignty to the Iraqi people by forming an Iraqi government.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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