Kashmir Muslims divided on verdict
6 November 2006
Srinagar: A day after deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussain was sentenced to death by a tribunal, there were mixed reactions from leaders of different political parties here to the verdict. The reactions clearly showed a divide between Shia and Sunni Muslims on the issue. The head of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said Saddam was a 'tyrant.' 'We should not have a soft corner for him. And we should not be either happy or be opposed to it and we all should think as a Muslim, not as a Shia or a Sunni,' Mr. Geelani said at a seminar organised by the Muslim League. However, he said that since the court that tried Mr. Hussein worked under the patronage of the U.S. Government, a fair trial was not possible. The case should been heard by an international tribunal. Muslim League chairman Massarat Alam praised Mr. Hussein for his gesture of 'openly opposing the Americans even in court.' He did not comment on the justification of the death sentence. But Shia leaders were clear in their support for the judgment. 'He committed a sin, he massacred Iraqis and he was punished,' said Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari. 'He couldn't have been forgiven. The law of the land has punished. Maybe America has played a role in it but he deserved the punishment.' Shia cleric Sheikh Ghulam Rasool Noori said: 'We should not see the judgment in the prism of sectarianism.' Quoting the Koran, he said that a Muslim should not be soft-hearted toward an oppressor. 'A tyrant neither has a sect nor a religion and the judge has the responsibility of delivering justice.' There were no processions in Kashmir either in the support of the judgment or against it. This was surprising going by past protests against U.S. occupation or reactions to any international issue concerning Muslims. Even the Shia majority Budgam town was silent.