Friday, November 13, 2009

Ayad Jamal Aldin

From Wikipedia:

'Ayad Jamal Al-Din (in Arabic : إياد جمال الدين) is an Iraqi member of parliament as part of the Iraqi National List. An islamic state secularist, he advocates the separation of church and state. He is quoted as saying:

We are like a bird born in a cage — America broke the cage open, but the bird does not know how to fly.

He is a young, Shia cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi’s overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, on a policy platform to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.

He was born in Najaf in 1961 which remains home for most of his family, although he now lives in Baghdad. He has several brothers and sisters and his late father was a literary scholar, with over 50 books to his credit, and his uncle was the famous poet Sayed Mustafa Jamal Aldin. Although he eventually trained as a cleric, he was brought up in an environment where science, culture, poetry and religion were studied hand-in-hand. That is where his belief that our problems are ‘human problems first’, and not Sunni or Turkmen or Kurd problems.

Well known in Iraq for his stand against corruption, he is on record as saying that his mission is to see an end to the corruption that has seen politicians subvert religion to their own needs, and use their sects to determine their success.

His first public appearance was at the age of 16, when he protested against the state’s attempt to prevent other Shias from making a pilgrimage to Karbala. And that is why he campaigns for ALL parties to declare who is funding them, how they are controlled, and for an end to outside interference in Iraq’s politics.

He paid for his protest with his freedom, being exiled to Syria and later Iran, where he studied the Qu’ran and Shari’a for eight years and earned his masters degree in Philosophy. He is on record saying that he does not want a secular state in order to reduce the role of God in people's lives; he wants to liberate religion from the state. He wants to see an end to the political sectarianism that puts Kurd against Shia and Turkmen against Sunni, believing that “we have a shared history, and we have a shared destiny”. He has consistently argued that freedom, tolerance and security walk hand-in-hand.

He is the father of six children – three boys and three girls.'

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