U.S., EU offer condolences on death of Shia Grand Ayatollah al-Hakeem

File – Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad al-Hakeem (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United States and European Union offered condolences on the death of Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Saeed al-Hakeem.

Al-Hakeem, one of Iraq’s most senior Shia clerics, died on Friday from a heart attack in the holy city of Najaf.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department extended its “sincere condolences” to the Islamic community and followers of the doctrine of Ahl al-Bayt and the great Marja’iyah on al-Hakeem’s death.

Al-Hakeem was a “symbol of peace, unity, and compassion across the region and the world,” it said on Friday.

The EU delegation in Iraq also said Hakeem’s dedication to peace, dialogue and unity “will always be remembered”.

The British embassy in Baghdad said it was saddened that Iraq had lost “such a respected and scholarly personality”.

Al-Hakeem, born in 1934, is one of four Grand Ayatollahs who teach at the Hawza, the religious seminary of Najaf, alongside Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

He died at the age of 87 at al-Hayat hospital in Najaf, according to state news agency INA.

AFP cited a source close to al-Hakeem’s office as saying that he died after undergoing a surgery three days ago.

Iraqi President Barham Salih said in a tweet that he was “one of the most prominent [figures] of the Islamic nation who combined knowledge with work in consolidating the values of justice, faith, love and peace.”

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