The Supreme Religious Authority: If those in power think that they can evade the benefits of real reform by stalling and procrastination, they are delusional.

The Supreme Religious Authority stated that if those in power think that they can evade the benefits of real reform by stalling and procrastination, they are delusional, as what comes after these protests will not be the same as before, and they should be aware of that.

These were the important points stated in the second sermon of Friday prayer of the 17th Rabi' Awwal 1441 AH corresponding to November 15, 2019, which was held in the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and led by his eminence Sayed Ahmad al-Safi, in which he stated:

Dear brothers and sisters, I will read for you the statement we have received from the office of his Eminence Sayed al-Sistani in Najaf:

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

Again, the supreme religious authority makes clear its position on the current protests calling for reform, in many points:

The first: The support of the protests, affirming the commitment to their peacefulness and freedom from any form of violence, and condemning the attack on peaceful demonstrators by killing, wounding, kidnapping, intimidation or else, as well as condemning the attack on security forces, government installations and private property. Anyone involved in any of these acts - which are forbidden by law and in violation of the law - must be prosecuted and held accountable in accordance with judicial procedures.

Second, the government derives its legitimacy - other than authoritarian regimes and the like - from the people, and only the people who give it its legitimacy. The will of the people is the result of the secret ballot if it is conducted fairly and impartially. And hence it is important to accelerate the adoption of a fair electoral law that restores citizens' confidence in the electoral process and does not take sides in political parties and currents, and gives a real opportunity to change the forces that have ruled the country over the past years, if the people want to change them and replace them with new faces. Passing a law that does not give such an opportunity to voters would be unacceptable and useless. A new law must also be passed for the commission, which is entrusted with overseeing the conduct of the elections, so as to document its impartiality, professionalism, credibility and popular acceptance.

Third: Although not a short period has passed since the popular protests have been lodged — during which hundreds have been killed and thousands have been wounded —, nothing has been achieved on the ground so far. None of the protesters’ demands has been fulfilled, especially in terms of prosecuting the corrupt, recovering the embezzled funds, revoking the unfair privileges granted to certain groups of people to the detriment of the rest of the Iraqi people, and avoiding quota government and favoritism, which casts doubts on the government’s ability or willingness in terms of responding to the protesters’ demands, and that’s not in the best interest of building trust between the ruling government and the Iraqi people.

Fourth: It’s unprecedented that Iraqi citizens have protested in large numbers, remained in the streets for that long period of time, and sacrificed themselves and everything they had — it’s because they’ve found no way to get rid of the aggravated corruption and the rampant deterioration at all levels with the agreement of the ruling powers -from various components- to share the homeland's wealth among themselves and disregard each other's corruption, but to protest and insist on their demands; it’s a serious attempt to end the unbearable government’s corruption and policy, where ordinary citizens can’t have their basic needs to live a decent life, despite the abundant financial resources of the country.

If those in power think that they can evade the benefits of real reform by stalling and procrastination, they are delusional, as what comes after these protests will not be the same as before, and they should be aware of that.

Fifth: The battle of reform waged by the Iraqi people is a national battle alone, and the Iraqis bear the heavy burdens, and no external party should not be allowed to interfere, although the opposite external interventions portend great risks, turning the country into an arena of conflict and settling scores between international and regional powers in which the biggest loser is the people.
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