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In restive Iran-Iraq border area, support for firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr holds strong

Al-Monitor traveled to Iraq’s impoverished southeast, known for drug smuggling and militia violence, to explore the continued support there for the Sadr movement. 
ESSAM AL-SUDANI/AFP via Getty Images

AMARA — Thin young men dart through the massive crowd, handing out photos of an iconic figure in Iraqi history to the men leaving Friday prayers at the central mosque in Iraq’s southeastern Maysan province.

Fewer than a dozen women entirely covered in black sit on the ground outside during the prayers. The overwhelming majority here are men, as is the case at a major football (soccer) competition that was held further south in Basra and in the halls of the central government in Baghdad to the north.

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