Long-suppressed Shias shape new Iraq

Persecuted by Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Shia population is increasingly influencing the political and religious landscape.

    Iraq's long-suppressed Shia majority is in the ascendancy.

    Thousands of pilgrims flocked to a Baghdad shrine this week in a vibrant expression of religious identity that would not have been tolerated under the ruler of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

    Iraq is also the first country in the Arab world to be ruled by Shias, with Shia parties now shaping the country's political landscape.

    But Shia nationalism is also playing a role in continued opposition to the presence of American troops in the country - with Moqtada al-Sadr, a key Shia leader, putting pressure on Iraqi leaders by threatening to re-activate his militia unless the US completes its withdrawal.

    Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Baghdad as part of our Iraq's Challenge series.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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