Speaking to Aljazeera on Friday, Muthanna Harith al-Dhari, head of information and cultural affairs of the AMS, said there was a political campaign to silence those critical of the "unjustified operation in Falluja".

"All the events that happened on Thursday - storming the houses of the AMS general-secretary Shaikh al-Dhari and Shaikh al-Qubaisi, raiding al-Shuhada mosque and arresting Shaikh Mahdi al-Sumaidai along with members of the Shura Council - come in the context of a campaign aimed at silencing these voices and preventing them from exposing what is taking place in Falluja now," al-Dhari told Aljazeera.

Al-Dhari said Iraqis were puzzled by the silence of religious scholars who had not condemned what was taking place in Falluja.

On Thursday, Shaikh Mahdi al-Sumaidai, imam of Ibn Taimiya mosque in Baghdad, said he blamed Shia cleric Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani for his silence on the events taking place in Falluja. 

Gatherings planned

"What's happening now requires a clear statement that condemns all the crimes committed in this city," al-Dhari said. "No other place has witnessed such crimes." 

He said earlier statements that condemned the military operations in al-Sadr city, Najaf, Karbala and other Iraqi cities were issued by all Islamic and non-Islamic religious clerics, "proving the unity of the Iraqis and their religious authorities".

"We are hoping that all Islamic and non-Islamic religious authorities comment on what's happening in Falluja", al-Dhari said.

The AMS official added that meetings would be held on Friday in many areas in Baghdad to condemn what was happening in the city.

The Falluja offensive, which started on Monday, is the largest military operation since last year's US-led invasion.