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March 16, 2006
Iraqi cleric wants gays killed in "most severe way"
In the midst of sectarian violence that threatens to drag Iraq into civil war, the country's influential Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a violent death order against gays and lesbians on his Web site, according to London-based LGBT human rights groups OutRage.
Written in Arabic, the fatwa comes from a press conference with the powerful religious cleric, where he was asked about the judgment on sodomy and lesbianism. “Forbidden,” Sistani answered, according to OutRage, “Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”
Considering Sistani's stature and influence within the Iraqi Shiite majority, OutRage member Ali Hili declared the cleric's statements extremely dangerous.
“Sistani's murderous homophobic incitement has given a green light to Shia Muslims to hunt and kill lesbians and gay men,” said Hili. “We hold Sistani personally responsible for the murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Iraqis. He gives the killers theological sanction and encouragement.”
Sistani is a leading member and voice of the Shiite sect, which in Iraq has approximately twice as many followers as the Sunni sect. (The Advocate)