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Wax museum spurs sticky situation in Iraq

Alaa Al-Marjani / AP

Two men, standing and second from right, are seen with wax figures depicting Shiite clerics at the wax museum in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, in a picture taken on Feb. 18, 2012 and made available today.

Alaa Al-Marjani / AP

Even before they go on display, the wax figures have become embroiled in controversy.

The Associated Press reports from Najaf, Iraq — An exhibit of wax statues depicting some of Shiite Muslims' most beloved clerics, aimed at paying tribute to this Iraqi holy city's contributions to culture, has been dipped in controversy as some Sunnis decry the figures as heretical.

Even before the exhibit opens, some Sunni Muslims - rarely shy about highlighting their religious differences with Shiites - are denouncing them as a violation of Islamic law. Even some Shiite clerics are a bit leery.

Some Muslim clerics of both sects interpret Islamic law as forbidding most depictions of people and even animals in art or other likenesses. They believe such likenesses could be perceived as false idols and, therefore, taboo. Read the full story.

Alaa Al-Marjani / AP

The exhibit is the brainchild of Sheik Ali Mirza, a Shiite cleric. He says the figures are so lifelike visitors sometimes "raise their hands to salute the statues as if they were alive."