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Sadr blends religion, populism in Iraqi politics

The populist Shiite Sadrist Movement demonstrates its leader’s ability to bring a new dynamic to the political scene in Iraq, which is too often marked by polarization and extremism.
Iraqi Shi'ite radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (C) takes part in Friday prayers at the Kufa mosque near Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad May 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ahmad Mousa (IRAQ - Tags: RELIGION) - RTXZHC5
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Unlike most Iraqi political forces, Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement is characterized by its strong grass roots and interaction with the public. It is a populist movement, which has its own particular social and cultural aspects. Sadr acts as a religious reference, political chief and social leader all at once. His answers to the questions of his followers express this spirit.  

On Sadr's website and social media sites, the Sadrist Movement leader tackles religious, political and moral issues posed by followers. Some ask him about spending the khums, a Shiite religious tax that has been the center of discussion on Shiite jurisprudence. Others raise questions about his stance vis-a-vis Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's bid to win a third term. (Sadr insinuated his lack of support for such an endeavor.) Another commented on the reluctance of Sunni clerics to condemn al-Qaeda attacks against Shiite civilians to which Sadr expressed his disappointment and hope that Sunni clerics will do better in condemning extremism.

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