All the demonstrators, who rallied on Tuesday outside a central Baghdad hotel used by foreign correspondents, carried photos of Abd al-Razzaq al-Lami and of his flattened car.

"Friday evening my brother stopped when he ran out of petrol. He was standing next to the vehicle waiting for someone to bring a can of petrol when an American tank arrived," said his brother Jasim al-Lami.

"The tank crushed the car and him. He died immediately. The US soldiers in the tank did not even stop to see what happened. They just left him on the ground."

Popular community figure

Abd al-Razzaq ran al-Rahman mosque in Sadr City, a poor Baghdad district which is home to about two million Shia.

"We decided to protest today to condemn what happened and to ask US forces to keep out", the victim's brother said. "What are tanks doing in the narrow streets in Sadr City?"

"The tank crushed the car and him. He died immediately. The US soldiers in the tank did not even stop to see what happened. They just left him on the ground."

Jasim al-Lami,
brother of crushed victim

Another cleric, Hasan al-Lami, said he was going to meet occupation administration officials to tell them what happened and to ask for the soldier who did this to be put on trial.

"He was a very respected and influential man," he said of the late Shia scholar, "and everyone here is angry about what happened. Shia blood can not be shed cheaply, the Americans have to understand that."

The US army said a tank had been involved in a traffic accident that resulted "in an accidental death" and an inquiry was underway.