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Gov't seeks national support council.

Byline: SS (S)

KARBALA / Aswat al-Iraq: The Iraqi prime minister's advisor for tribal affairs on Thursday revealed government plans to set up a tribal support council.

"The Iraqi government is currently considering a project to set up a national support council for tribal affairs," Abboud al-Issawi said in his speech at the opening of the first conference on national reconciliation follow-up and tribal support councils, held in Karbala city.

"If approved by the cabinet, the proposal will be submitted to the Parliament for approvalC*," Issawi noted.

Karbala, with an estimated population of 572,300 people in 2003, is the capital of the province and is considered to be one of Shiite Muslims' holiest cities.

The city, 110 km south of Baghdad, is one of Iraq's wealthiest, profiting both from religious visitors and agricultural produce, especially dates.

It is made up of two districts, "Old Karbala," the religious centre, and "New Karbala," the residential district containing Islamic schools and government buildings.

At the centre of the old city is Masjid al-Hussein, the tomb of Hussein Ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad by his daughter Fatima al-Zahraa and Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.

Imam Hussein's tomb is a place of pilgrimage for many Shiite Muslims, especially on the anniversary of the battle, the Day of Ashuraa. Many elderly pilgrims travel there to await death, as they believe the tomb to be one of the gates to paradise. On April 14, 2007, a car bomb exploded about 600 ft (200 m) from the shrine, killing 47 and wounding over 150.

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Publication:Aswat al-Iraq (Erbil, Iraq)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Nov 6, 2008
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