Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sistani: Iraq's Old Gray Cleric Fading

Grand Ayatullah Sayyid 'Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, the most influential of Iraq's four grand ayatullahs, has seen his authority dwindle as the country's Sunni and Shi'i Arabs descend further into an ultra-violent and sadistic civil war. Initially politically effective, al-Sistani has been largely marginalized in temporal affairs by lower-ranking Shi'i clerics who serve as powerful political chiefs, namely Muqtada al-Sadr (ON POSTER TO LEFT), the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq's 'Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim (BELOW), and virulently anti-Iranian ayatullah Mahmoud Hassani al-Sarkhi (BOTTOM). Al-Sistani's calls for peace between the two Muslim Arab communities have failed and thousands of Iraqis are killed every month. Last week estimates put the number of dead at over 1,000 people. Traditional religious authority continues to erode as inter-communal violence spirals out of control.

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