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Iraqi Shiite religious leaders divided on Maliki

The Iraqi parliamentary elections are showing a deep division among the Shiite community, with rising tension between the Shiite religious authorities and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki shows his ink marked finger as he votes during parliamentary election in Baghdad April 30, 2014. Iraqis head to the polls on Wednesday in their first national election since U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 as Prime Minister Nuri Maliki seeks a third term amid rising violence.
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The Iraqi newspaper Al-Alam published a report on May 6 in which it indicated that the statements of Ayatollah Bashir Najafi, who is one of the four prominent religious authorities in Najaf, was not an isolated event. In the details, Najafi had called on Iraqi voters to refrain from voting for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The newspaper reported from a source close to the religious establishment in Najaf that the son of Najafi, Sheikh Ali al-Najafi, urged voters to support the Citizen Coalition led by Ammar al-Hakim during his visit to the south, with the elections just around the corner.

Although the strong stance of Najafi against Maliki, only a few days before the elections, surprised many people, the political and religious circles were already aware of the tension between the two men that had been implicitly expressed in previous statements and insinuations.

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