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UPDATED: 08:11, May 18, 2005
Zarqawi group slams US call to include Sunnis in constitution writing
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Al-Qaida's group in Iraq lashed out Tuesday at a call by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to bring Iraq's Sunni Arabs into the political process, an internet statement said.

The group led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's representative in Iraq, said in the statement that anyone who would follow this call would be selling his religion for worldly interests.

"The constitution is written only by those who disavowed their belief in God's book," the statement said, adding "our belief stipulates that sword and bullets are our way of holding dialogue with you."

The authenticity of the statement, posted on a website frequently used by Islamic militants, could not be independently verified.

During her surprise visit to Iraq on Sunday, Rice, the first high-ranking US official to visit the violence-torn country since a new transitional government was sworn in on April 28, expressed concern over a resurgence in violence.

Violence has witnessed a surge in the past two weeks, during which some 400 people have been killed in bombings, shoot-outs and assassinations.

Rice met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari over how to rein in surging violence, believed to be driven mainly by Sunni insurgents, and moves to bring the under-represented Sunnis into the political fold.

Sunnis, who used to enjoy privilege under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, were under-represented in Jafaari's cabinet because most of them stayed away from the Jan. 30 election out of fear or angry.

The new government is facing a major challenge, apart from delivering on its promise to improve security, to reach out to the Sunnis in writing a constitution.

A new parliament will be elected under the new constitution by the end of 2005.

The statement also condemned a reported US desecration of Islam's holy book Quran. "You will not get away with insulting God's book," the statement said.

US weekly magazine Newsweek reported on its May 9 edition that US interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, flushed Quran pages into the toilet to unsettle detainees.

Newsweek later retracted the story, but the report has caused an uproar of condemnation in Muslim world.

Zarqawi, the top wanted militant by the United States in Iraq, has been a mastermind behind scores of suicide attacks and hostage beheadings. Pentagon has placed a 25-million-dollar bounty on his head.

Source: Xinhua

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