[Marxism] Aljazeera: - Al-Sadr City: Support from the impoverished

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Mon Aug 30 08:58:21 MDT 2004

Al-Sadr City: Support from the impoverished
By May Ying Welsh in Baghdad

Wednesday 28 April 2004, 8:46 Makka Time, 5:46 GMT

In the main square of Baghdad's largest Shia ghetto, an elderly man in 
the worn uniform of the former Iraqi air force directs donkey and car 
traffic with a ping-pong paddle.


Under class

Under ensuing governments, al-Sadr City's Shia made up to a third of 
Baghdad's population, but held few positions of power and were 
disproportionately represented in Iraq's unemployment rolls, prisons, 
and the frontlines of its wars.

The people first turned to communism to address their social woes, then 
to the homegrown revolutionary ideology of Ayat Allah Muhammad Baqir 
al-Sadr, executed by the government in 1980, and his cousin Ayat Allah 
Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr assassinated in 1999.

Both men had studied for years under the leader of the Iranian 
Revolution Ayat Allah Khomeini. 

According to Shaikh Abd al-Zahra, the Imam of al-Hikma mosque in al-Sadr 
City, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr was revolutionary because he called for the 
formation of a just Islamic state. He won support from the impoverished 
because he called the clergy to a leading role against social injustice.

Most importantly, he dared to stand up for them to Saddam Hussein.

"Al-Sadr demanded the government release prisoners, because many of our 
youth and men of religion were just rotting in jail and no one knew 
their fate," says Abd al-Zahra.

"He called state ministers to ask for forgiveness. He used to chant: 
'No, no to Satan, no, no to the unjust one!' And everyone knew that what 
he meant by Satan was Saddam."


Tough lessons

When the US military first entered Baghdad, Ali and the people of 
al-Sadr City hailed them as heroes and liberators.

But a year later, this sentiment has reversed and a new saying is heard 
in the streets: "The student left and the teacher came."



les schaffer

More information about the Marxism mailing list