NAJAF, Iraq — Amid the reform protests taking place in Baghdad, political differences between Shiite clerics interested in Iraqi affairs have been widening in the two cities of Qom and Najaf.
While controversial cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, continues to support the demonstrations that significantly sparked these Shiite differences, Shiite clerics based in Qom have issued fatwas condemning the protests and saying that they would lead to a devastating mess. The most recent demonstration took place Feb. 17 in Baghdad and in other Shiite provinces in southern Iraq. On Feb. 11, five protesters were killed and 320 were injured in Baghdad. Other Shiite clerics close to the Iranian regime also issued fatwas against the protests in Iraq, such as Kazem al-Haeri and Sheikh Mahdi Asefi.