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GAZA STRIP

Gaza Shiites claim Hamas persecution

GAZA CITY — Masked Hamas police beat and detained members of the Gaza Strip’s tiny Shiite community during a religious commemoration last week, a follower and local rights groups said Tuesday, accusing their Islamist rulers of religious intolerance.

It was the first claim of harassment by a group of Shiite worshippers against the territory’s mainstream rulers, who are Sunni Muslims.

Hamas officials, who have close ties with Shiite Iran, denied the allegations.

A man who described himself as a Shiite said police burst into a house where followers were marking Arbaeen, the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

The man said about 15 worshippers were beaten and detained. He declined to be identified, fearing further harassment.

But some of the men filed complaints to the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the rights group Mezan, which both sharply condemned Hamas over the attack.

IRAQ

Sunni Cabinet ministers suspended during boycott

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi official said ministers from the Sunni-backed bloc have been suspended from the Cabinet after boycotting its sessions.

That could deepen a sectarian-based government crisis with the dominant Shiite party.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the ministers are no longer “allowed to manage ministries, and all decisions that will be signed by them are invalid.”

They have been boycotting to protest an arrest warrant issued against the top Sunni politician, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.

Mr. al-Dabbagh said Tuesday in a statement that ministers from the Iraqiya bloc would be allowed back into the Cabinet if they ended their boycott.

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