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Arrest warrant issued for Iraq cabinet minister in assassination plot

[JURIST] Iraqi security officials issued an arrest warrant and raided the home Tuesday of Culture Minister Asad Kamal al-Hashimi to investigate allegations that al-Hashimi masterminded an assassination attempt against a parliamentary candidate in February 2005. Al-Hashimi, a Sunni, is the first member of the Iraqi cabinet to face an arrest warrant. Al-Hashimi's party, the General Council for the People of Iraq, condemned the arrest warrant, saying it was a sectarian effort to remove Sunni leaders. Spokesperson for the Iraqi Accordance Front Muhanad al-Essawi said the charges against al-Hashimi were fabricated. The Iraqi Accordance Front [BBC backgrounder], composed of Sunni Arab Islamists and nationalists, is the largest Sunni parliamentary coalition in Iraq.

Last November, Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani announced an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for prominent hardliner Sunni cleric Harith al-Dhari [Time report], who headed the influential Association of Muslim Scholars [association website, in Arabic; GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. The warrant prompted widespread criticism from Sunni groups, which saw the move as being a part of the Shiite-dominated government's efforts to suppress Sunni political influence. AP has more.

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