The joint Shia-Sunni Friday Prayers came against the backdrop of growing anger countrywide over what Iraqi authorities, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, describe as attempts to sow sectarian strife.
On May 19, Maliki called on Iraqis to hold joint prayers every Friday in a bid to reduce violence after a series of terrorist attacks on Shia and Sunni holy sites across Iraq killed scores of people.
“Those who target mosques are enemies of Sunnis and Shias alike, and are planning to ignite (sectarian) strife,” Maliki said in a statement on Sunday.
More than 400 people have been killed in bombings and others acts of violence in Iraq since the start of May.
On May 21, at least 42 people were killed and many others injured in a series of terrorist attacks across Iraq. A day earlier, nearly 100 people were killed in multiple attacks.
The Iraqi premier has blamed militant groups and the remnants of the former Ba’athist regime for the violence. He has also accused some regional countries of fueling the violence in his country in a bid to topple the Iraqi government.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said on May 2 that April was the deadliest month in Iraq since 2008 as terrorist attacks killed over 700 people and injured more than 1,600 others across the country.
UNAMI also stated that Baghdad was the worst affected governorate, with a total of 211 killed and nearly 500 injured.