His Eminence Sheikh Abdul Mahdi

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I would like to draw your attention to the contents of the second sermon.

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

The Supreme Religious Authority is following with grave concern the unfolding events in the beloved city of Basra. It expresses its deep sorrow and regret at the consequences of what has happened there, which it warned about more than once. Unfortunately, however, its warnings fell on deaf ears and today we renew our concerns on several fronts.

1. We reaffirm our absolute rejection and condemnation of the blatant attacks on the peaceful demonstrators, especially the use of live ammunition against them, which led to the loss of many of livesand the wounding of many others. We also strongly condemn the attacks on the security forces, charged with protecting government buildings and facilities,by the throwing of stones, Molotov cocktails, and the like; causing injury to dozens of them. We also condemn the attacks on both public and private property, such as burning, breaking, looting, and the like. These acts, in addition to being unjustified under our laws and religious edicts, give rise to new crises and aggravate the very problems which the citizens are complaining about right now. Therefore, we appeal to everyone to stop these practices and not to resort to violence, especially the use of excessive force when dealing with protests and not to trespass on either public or private property.

2. The oppressed people of Iraq, who, after the fall of the former regime, have had to endure untold suffering as a result of terrorist attacks, which have left behind them hundreds of thousands of victims, widows and orphans; and of course, not forgetting how Iraq offered its precious sons in the defence of its land and its sanctities in the long war against the Daesh terrorists. Large sections of the population have endured pain and deprivation for fifteen long years in the hope that the new order will deliver for them a different reality from the old one in which they enjoy a dignified and stable life.

This so far patient and expectant people can no longer bear to stand by and watch the indifference of those in power to their plight and to their ever spiralling problems and intractable crises, who are instead preoccupied with fighting amongst themselves for the political gains and the spoils of power and government appointments. These same people have also allowed foreigners to interfere in the internal affairs of the country and to turn it into an arena for regional and international score settlingand a forum for foreign interests and agendas..

3. The suffering of the citizens of Basra and the other governorates from the lack of basic services and the spread of poverty and unemployment and the proliferation of corruption in the institutions of the state is a natural result of the poor performance of senior officials and those in sensitive positions in successive governments, which have been built on political quotas and nepotism and an abject failure toselect officials based on their professionalism and merit, especially in the appointment for important positions and services. This tragic reality will not change if the next government is formed along the same lines and criteria as previous governments. Hence, the pressure is on to form a new government which is different from its predecessors and which takes into consideration the merits, integrity, courage, determination and loyalty to the country and its the people in the selection of senior officials.

4. By monitoring the water situation in Basra, the representatives of the Supreme Religious Authority now discern the full extent of the government’s failure in dealing with this issue. It has become evident that it was possible with some effort and with relatively modest sums compared to the spending potential at the disposal of the government to alleviate the crisis to a large extent, but the inefficiency of some officials and the lack of interest of others and the stifling administrative routine and the discontinuity between the responsible branches of government and other such obstacles have exacerbated the problem and turned it into aoverwhelming crisis.

It is absolutely necessary for the decision makers in the executive authority to monitor with duediligence the progress of strategic projects, especially those related to infrastructure, and to take quick decisive steps based on the advice of experts and not to leave matters in limbo and at the mercy of the ebb and flow of officials or to rely on routine mechanisms which inherently impede the completion of projects, which, for instance, instead of taking six months to complete, take several years.

5. In view of the fact that many of the existing problems take time to be resolved and because they are not capable of being resolved within a short period of time, it is essential that officials demonstrate a clear earnestness in taking the initiative in this regard, so that the citizen can have some degree of confidence and reassurance that there is a real will to end their suffering, which will help to calm nerves and to reduce tensions. What is likely to contribute to this sense is the personal attendance bysenior officials, such as ministers, at the workplace and their personal follow-up of the way things are progressing and to listen to the demands of citizens and to do their best to meet them, by whatever means that bypass routine administrative procedures.

We beseech Allah to aid us in our hour of need.