Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi parliamentary speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi was forced to adjourn a parliamentary session yesterday after a fight broke out between two MPs.
A physical confrontation took place between Iraqiya bloc MP Haidar Al-Mulla and Sadirist movement MP Kazim Al-Sayadi following a disagreement over the controversial display of images of leading Iranian officials throughout Baghdad, including Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini.
Mulla considered the display of pictures of Iranian clerics and leaders in Iraq as “a violation of Iraq’s rules.”
Mohamed Al-Khalidi, an Iraqi politician and leader in the ‘United’ bloc, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the issue started after “Haidar Al-Mulla of the parliament’s presidential committee requested that the issue of the public display of images of Ayatollah Khomeini and the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, be placed on the agenda.”
“The principle of displaying images of foreign leaders, in any country, is something that requires justification because it is unacceptable in any and all circumstances—particularly given that Iraq and Iran fought a fierce war, and some of the pictures are provocative,” he added.
For its part, the National Alliance denounced Al-Mulla’s statements over the public display of pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Speaking during a press conference in Baghdad, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, head of the National Iraqi Alliance, said: “Al-Mulla is ignorant of and ignores Islamic authorities.”
Jaafari added that Mulla failed to realize that these figures constitute an authority to their followers regardless of their nationalities.
“While we are seeing other pictures and icons such as Gandhi and Guevara,” Jaafari added, “is it not normal to respect sanctities and [religious] authorities?”
He called upon Mulla to “apologize because his speech violated the sanctity of the Iraqi parliament.”
Speaking during a joint press conference with Iraqiya bloc spokesperson Maysoon Al-Damluji, Mulla said: “We have collected the signatures of a number of MPs, to raise the subject of the public display of images of the leader of the Islamic Iranian revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini.”
“We have received the approval of the presidential committee to broach this subject,” he added.
Mulla also emphasized: “We condemned infiltrators holding pictures of the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in some provinces,” adding, “We reject and refuse the raising of images of religious figures.”
For her part, Damluji said: “The Iraqiya bloc condemns the public display of images of foreign leaders including Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei in the streets of Baghdad.”
“These pictures provoke the ire of Iraqi citizens and violate the sovereignty of Iraq,” she added.
Instead of parliament witnessing a civil discussion over the controversial issue, Damluji revealed that the parliamentary debate “turned into a fist fight.”
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Iraqi MP Hassan Al-Yassiry denied that the “Iraqi government was involved in putting up the pictures of Khomeini or Khamenei in the streets of Baghdad or any other provinces.”
“Al-Mulla is known for being quarrelsome. These pictures belong to [religious] figures whose authority goes beyond their homelands,” he added, stressing that the issue should not have been raised in parliament in the first place.