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  Updated: March 01, 2010

Iraq Marje’ declares vote-buying 'Haraam', tells aides to stay neutral

By: Ismail Zabeeh

HOLY CITY OF NAJAF, Iraq: Al-Marje Al-Aala Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Al-Husseini As-Sistani has issued a Fatwa (religious ruling), declaring vote-buying as Haraam (forbidden) ahead of the country's March 7 parliament elections.

Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalaei while speaking on behalf of the Ayatollah called on candidates and political parties to respect election laws and avoid trying to influence voter decision through dishonest means.

"Candidates and political entities must adopt a realistic and feasible program to encourage people to vote for them," al-Karbalai, who is a representative of the Ayatollah in Karbala, told worshippers during the Friday prayers sermon in Al-Imam Al-Hussein shrine.

"They should avoid making unrealistic promises… [They should] also refrain from slandering one another, because it is unacceptable and immoral," he added noting that the religious leadership did not favor any particular group or candidate.

He said, however, that showing up at the ballot box on March 7 was not enough, stressing that everyone had a moral responsibility to choose the candidate that they believed would best secure Iraq's present and future interests.

The cleric also explicitly stated that distributing money, gifts and promises of future handouts to impact election results are an impermissible act based on all religious and ethical principles.

"Accepting these sums is Haraam. Even if you disregard that fact, it would be degrading to Iraq's national dignity if people start being drawn to a special candidate or group [for these reasons]," he explained.

Meanwhile, the Ayatollah also ordered his representatives across the country not to campaign for any blocs or candidates contesting the March 7 parliamentary elections.


 
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