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  Updated: April 16, 2009

Samarra shrine reopens after reconstruction

By: Ismail zabeeh

SAMARRA, Iraq: Al-Marjaiyah Ad-Diniyah representatives, clerics and high government officials attended a grand reopening ceremony of the rebuilt holy shrine of Al-Imamyan Al-Askariyain in Samarra on Thursday April 16, 2009.

The dome and minarets of the shrine that was levelled in 2006 and 2007at the hands of terrorists have been reconstructed with the help of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) following improvements in security.

"The technical teams were able to complete the rebuilding of the dome and the minarets with Iraqi hands," said Haqi al-Hakim, head of the government committee charged with rebuilding the mausoleum.

Replacing the gold tiles that once covered the massive dome and completing intricate ceramic decorations will require more time, he said, but visitors are now being allowed inside the building for the first time since 2006.

Sayed Ahmed As-Safi, Marjaiyah representative in Karbala, while attending the ceremony said that he felt much satisfaction as he entered the holy shrine. He praised the workers.

Sheikh Jalaloddin As-Saghir was among those who spoke on the occasion.

The massive golden dome, about 20 metres (66 feet) high and with a diameter of 68 metres (223 feet), was built in 1905 and covered with 72,000 gold tiles.

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