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Sistani Calls for 'Civil State' in Iraq

Mustafa al-Kadhimi discusses the role of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraqi politics.
Iraqis carry a poster of top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani during a demonstration in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad June 13, 2007. Dozens of residents took to the streets in Najaf protesting the latest bomb attack in Samarra's Golden Mosque Shi'ite shrine.     REUTERS/Ali Abu Shish    (IRAQ)
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Iraqi politicians — whether Shiites, Sunnis or Kurds — have for years tried to drag supreme Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani into their ongoing political conflicts. To this day, certain parties have not grown tired in their efforts, through any means possible, to bridge the wide gap between the prevailing view in Najaf — based on religious figures maintaining distance from politics — and the prevailing theory in the Iranian city of Qom — based on religious figures assuming political roles.

However, Sistani — a charismatic man who adheres to a near-obsolete legacy that is hard to change —  resisted, and is resisting, all of these attempts. He is doing so not only out of an ascetic desire to abstain from politics and power, but also to protect millions of his Shiite followers throughout the world from the effects of severing the thin line between the religious Shiite figure and the political leader.

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