Reporter’s Notebook: Politics and prayer
FRANCE 24 correspondent Lucas Menget is in Baghdad to cover the upcoming legislative elections. This is his "reporter's notebook" on the situation in the Iraqi capital.
FRIDAY, March 5
Life appears to grind to a halt for two hours every Friday morning in Baghdad's Shiite stronghold of Sadr City. Dust seems to be suspended, frozen even, in the air. The children play noiselessly in the streets. The reason for this cessation of activity? Friday prayers.
Two days before key legislative elections, the city’s political and religious leaders are out in force at the mosque. In white or black turbans and long robes, they pack out the front rows of the prayer room as the faithful praise the name of the prophet Hussein.
Infamous Shiite leader Muqtada Sadr is the only missing face. But this is not unusual. Is the radical young chief hiding in Qom, Iran, or Kufa, Iraq? Wherever he is, the hero of anti-American Iraqis called upon his fellow citizens to vote on Sunday and his supporters in Sadr City are now awaiting his instructions on how they should vote.
Meanwhile, Sadr’s representative is at the mosque praying at the top of his lungs. In between prayers, he hollers out his party’s fundamental views to the people. Sadr’s movement hasn’t changed and neither has Sadr City.