Najaf: Anti-American cleric Muqtada Al Sadr called for a three-day mourning period to mark the destruction on Wednesday of the minarets of the Shi'ite shrine in Samarra and criticised the government for not doing enough to protect the site.
In a statement issued in the holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, Al Sadr also called for peaceful demonstrations following the blasts "to show that the only enemy of Iraq is the occupation and that's why everyone must demand its departure or scheduling its presence."
Al Sadr uses the word "occupation" to refer to the presence of US troops in Iraq.
Al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia has been blamed for much of the sectarian violence that targeted Sunni Arabs, sweeping Baghdad and other parts of Iraq following the 2006 bombing.
His statement, however, appeared to take a conciliatory tone, saying that no Sunni Arab could have been responsible for Wednesday's bombing.
"We declare a three-day mourning period...and shout Allahu Akbar (God is greater) from Sunni and Shi'ite mosques," said Al Sadr, who lives in Najaf. He also called on Iraqis to wear mourning black and fly black banners.
"What did the government do to protect the tombs?" he asked, alluding to the burial places of two revered imams in the Samarra shrine.
If it could protect the site, he said, "then, we can do it ourselves."