Doha - Muslim scholars from around the Arab world, convening in Qatar Monday, appealed to the Iraqi people 'to end the bloodshed' between rival factions of Shiites and Sunnis in the war-torn country.
'The war between the Sunnis and Shiites is splitting Iraq apart and is diverting the Muslim nation from the real enemy, that lies in waiting for the opportunity to attack us,' read a statement published during the closure of an Islamic conference in Doha.
Some attending Sunni and Shiite scholars had reportedly exchanged insults and accused each side of trying to 'convert' the other.
In their statements, the scholars said that Sunnis and Shiites are members of the same faith, and so should strive to 'stand united' in face of challenges and obstacles.
The scholars also advised that different Islamic sects strive 'not to offend' each others' belief systems.
Prominent and controversial Egyptian scholar Youssef al-Qaradawi was not at the conference that attracted around 170 scholars from across the Arab world, but sent a statement to the delegates.
In the statement, the Egyptian scholar said that the International Union of Islamic Scholars had decided to send a delegation to Iran, to help put pressure on the Iranian government to improve security situation there and to and end the internal clashes.
Tensions between Shiites and Sunnis have been increasing, not only in Iraq, but in other parts of the Arab world such as Lebanon and Bahrain.
The bloody clashes between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq have been blamed on Iran, with the country being accused of supporting the militias and enticing sectarian strife.
Recently, Iran and its Sunni ally Syria have expressed a desire to take a more active role in brokering peace in Iraq.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur