In veiled reference to Al-Ghadeer Day holiday

Former Nineveh governor warns against provoking Sunnis

BAGHDAD — Former Nineveh Governor Atheel Al-Nujaifi warned on Friday of the dangers of provoking Sunni religious sensitivities.

While he did not explicitly reference a specific incident, Al-Nujaifi’s social media post appeared to relate to the recent Public Holidays Law ratified by the Iraqi Parliament on May 22, which designated Al-Ghadeer Day as a national holiday.

“The chaos-seekers among the Shia do not realize that when they provoke Sunni doctrines, they are deliberately starving and agitating a lion that was once weighed down by wounds and is now healing,” Al-Nujaifi stated.

Al-Ghadeer Day, observed by Shia Muslims on the 18th of Dhu Al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar, marks the occasion when, according to Shia tradition, Prophet Mohammed designated his cousin Imam Ali as his successor. This claim is contested by Sunnis, who recognize Ali as the fourth caliph after Abu Bakr, Omar, and Othman.

Al-Nujaifi expressed hope that the Iraqi government “recognizes the danger of these actions and puts a decisive end to them.”

He served as Mosul’s governor from 2009 to 2015, until the Iraqi Parliament removed him after the Islamic State group seized Nineveh and several other Sunni-majority provinces the previous year.

The holidays law has sparked divergent reactions among Iraqis, celebrated by Shia while denounced by Sunnis. Al-Nujaifi’s brother, Osama Al-Nujaifi, who served as parliament speaker and vice president in the past, also criticized the law, calling it “unpatriotic.”

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