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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Ayatollah Sistani in quotes
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani
The ayatollah has refused to talk to the media directly

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, whose talks with the more radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr appear to have resolved the stand-off in Najaf, has consistently refused to talk to the media directly.

His statements have generally been relayed through his son Mohammad Reda Ali Sistani, or in the form of religious rulings, or written replies to newspapers.

The following is a selection of his statements since the start of the conflict in Iraq.

The duty of Muslims in these difficult circumstances is to unite their stands and do all they can to defend beloved Iraq and safeguard it against the schemes of the covetous enemies... Every Muslim should do all he can to defend Muslim Iraq and prevent the aggression against it... Offering any kind of assistance or help to the aggressors is a mortal sin.

From fatwa issued by Sistani in Sep 2002, reported by Iraqi TV

Our country must be governed by its people, by its best children. It is for Iraqis to choose who governs, we want them to control the country.

As quoted by his son Mohammad Reda Ali Sistani in April 2003

The coalition forces must assume full responsibility for the lack of security in various parts of Iraq and for allowing looting and theft.

As quoted by his son Mohammad Reda Ali Sistani in April 2003

We feel great unease over the goals of the occupation forces, and we see that they must make it possible for Iraqis to rule themselves without foreign intervention.

As quoted by his son Mohammad Reda Ali Sistani in June 2003

The occupation authorities are not entitled to name the members of the assembly charged with drafting the constitution... There is no guarantee that such a convention will draft a constitution which upholds the Iraqi people's interests and expresses their national identity.

From fatwa signed by Sistani in June 2003

The religious constants and the Iraqi people's moral principles and noble social values should be the main pillars of the coming Iraqi constitution... The principle of shura, pluralism, and respect for the majority view must be enshrined in the new constitution... The religious authority's principal role is to provide believers with the shari'ah fatwas on all aspects of life and to steer the true religion along the course of the imams... Dialogue is the best way to resolve any disagreements.

From Sistani's written answers to questions put by the London-based Al-Zaman newspaper in August 2003

Undoubtedly, behind such a horrific and barbaric crime, and also other crimes perpetrated earlier in Najaf and other areas of Iraq, there are those who do not want security and calm to return to this ravaged land... While condemning such barbaric acts, we hold the occupying forces responsible for these operations, the insecurities and inflammatory acts which the people of Iraq are witnessing.

Statement from Sistani's ofice on the murder of Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim in August 2003

We want what the people want, and we reject what they reject. We want national assembly elections and presidential elections for a specific term. Individual opinions have no value. The value is in what the people choose. The constitution must not be written by the occupier but by Iraqis, based on the Iraqi people's patriotic spirit... Rumours and reports you hear about sectarian or religious conflict in Iraq are not true, we have no differences. we embrace the same position, each one of us respects the other, we live as one people and one family.

Sistani's remarks to visiting Arab League delegation as reported by the Iraqi al-Zaman newspaper, December 2003

The religious authority demands clear guarantees - like a UN Security Council resolution - that elections will be held on the set date so that the Iraqi people will be reassured that this issue will not be subject to further delay. The religious authority also demands that the unelected authority, to which power will be handed over on 30 June, should be an interim administration with clear and specific authorities to prepare the country for free and fair elections.

From statement on Sistani's web site after the UN fact-finding team's report on the feasibility of elections in Iraq, February 2004

For many known reasons, the option of elections has been ruled out. Owing to procrastination, rejection and intimidation, the date of 30 June, on which Iraqis are supposed to regain sovereignty over their country, is drawing nearer. Members of the new government have been appointed, but do not enjoy the legitimacy of elections. Moreover, not all sectors of the Iraqi community and its political forces are represented appropriately. In spite of this, it we hope the new government will prove its efficacy, integrity and unwavering resolve to accomplish its critical duties.

From statement by Sistani reported by London-based Imam Ali Foundation web site, June 2004

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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