The Iraqi Interior Ministry on Wednesday said it will enforce law and order to deter those it described as “seeking to fuel sedition” in the Levantine country.
Over the last couple of days, the ministry and security forces took several measures against the followers of Shiite cleric Mahmoud Abdul-Ridha Muhammad.
A scholar affiliated with Muhammad had stirred controversy after preaching against any exaggeration in building religious shrines.
Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced that the Al-Amarah Investigation Court issued an arrest warrant for Muhammad, nicknamed Al-Sarkhi.
A statement by the Supreme Judicial Council, received by the Iraqi News Agency (INA), stated that " Al-Amarah Investigation Court issued an arrest warrant against the accused (Mahmoud Abdul-Ridha Muhammad), aka (Mahmoud Al-Sarkhi)."
The statement added that “the issuance of the arrest warrant came in accordance with the provisions of Article (372) penalties, which stipulates the punishment of anyone who publicly assaults a belief of a religious sect or degrades its rituals.”
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry released a statement in which it affirmed it was closely and carefully following up on the case to enhance security and stability.
Riots had erupted in protest at Al-Sarkhi's recent calls for demolishing Shiite shrines across the country. The protesters called on the security forces “to prosecute all those who abuse religious symbols.”
Security authorities said in a statement that it had shut all the headquarters of the Sarkhi religious authority.
Moreover, the Interior Ministry confirmed that the law is the only way to punish a stray and perverted group that takes the guise of religion, and that any undisciplined individual or collective in this regard constitutes an unacceptable attack on the law and order.
The ministry called on citizens to cooperate in all governorates with security forces to maintain security and protect peace.