Middle East
Leading Iraqi Shia party rebrands
The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution wants a more Iraqi image.
Last Modified: 12 May 2007 12:44 GMT
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, centre, remains
the leader of the party [Reuters]

Iraq's largest Shia party has pledged its allegiance to the country's most senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, distancing itself from Iran where it was formed.
The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) also changed its name to the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), dropping the word Revolution on Saturday.
Party officials said they had introduced significant policy changes.
They said the changes were aimed at giving the party more of an Iraqi flavour and to reflect the changing situation in the country since the US-led invasion overthrew Saddam Hussein, then president, in 2003.
They said the party had been close to al-Sistani for some time, but a two-day conference on Baghdad that ended on Friday had formalised relations with the influential cleric.
Rida Jawad al-Takki, a senior group member, read out the party's decisions to reporters.
"We cherish the great role played by the religious establishment headed by Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani ... in preserving the unity of Iraq and the blood of Iraqis and in helping them building a political system based on the constitution and law," he said.
He also said the party pledged to follow the guidance of the Shia establishment.
Spiritual leadership
Al-Sistani, a reclusive figure who lives in the Najaf, is the spiritual leader of Iraq's majority Shia. He rarely makes public statements but his utterances are closely monitored by his followers.
Officials said the party, which was formed in Iran in the 1980s to oppose Saddam, had previously taken its guidance from the religious establishment of Welayat al Faqih, led by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran.
Islamic experts say the authority of the Faqih, who "surpasses all others in knowledge" of Islamic law and justice, is not limited to his home country, but extends to all Shia Muslims who pledge obedience and believe in the Faqih.
The Faqih has the final word on matters related to Islam from political, social and religious issues.
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of SIIC, is a powerful religious leader who has good relations with the US.
A key player in post-Saddam Iraqi politics, SIIC holds around a quarter of the seats in parliament occupied by the ruling Shia Alliance of Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister. Iraq and Iran fought a bitter war for eight years in the 1980s.
Relations have improved since the fall of Saddam, although Iraqi leaders have to walk a delicate line between the United States and Iran, which are at loggerheads over Tehran's nuclear programme and the violence in Iraq.
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.