Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Music show: Mahalia, Ariana Grande & Willie Nelson

Read more

FOCUS

Tramadol: Cameroon’s low-budget opioid crisis

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

EU citizens’ consultations: Macron’s efforts to renew Europe

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Strengthening ties Down Under: The man charged with promoting Australia in France

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Jagland: ‘Would be disastrous if Russia pulls out of Council of Europe’

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Much ado about nothing? Actress Natalie Portman's boycott of 'Jewish Nobel awards' sparks backlash

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump: Strategic BFFs?

Read more

IN THE PRESS

'Badass': Accolades pour in for Southwest pilot who landed plane after engine failure

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Poverty remains a challenge for Paraguay as new president is elected

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2012-07-06

The Hawza: Najaf's Shia theological school

In this report we head to the Iraqi city of Najaf. 160km south of Baghdad, it’s Shia Islam’s third holy city after Mecca and Medina. France 24 toured the Hawza, the city’s theological school, where scholars spend up to 25 years immersed in Shia theology. They witnessed an institution that is shining once more, following the fall of Saddam Hussein. Report by Karim Hakiki, Amar Al Hameedawi

The sky darkens as we arrive in Najaf, the result of a giant sandstorm. As day turns to night, the famous mausoleum of Imam Ali is hidden from view. Pilgrims, who’ve come from all over the world, take refuge inside the great mosque.

It’s a city within a city, tightly protected by the Iraqi army. To enter, you have to pass through three security control points. Attacks against Shia Muslims are frequent ,and the sandstorm has made the soldiers nervous. Once inside the mausoleum, we come across thousands of pilgrims who live, sleep and eat on site. It’s well-organized, men on one side women on the other.

Najaf, one of the most important Shia pilgrimage sites, is also the centre of Shia political power in Iraq. The influence of Iran is evident everywhere -- from the millions of visitors who cross the border each year, to the imported merchandise on sale at the market. Trade too is dominated by Iranians, in a city which looks increasingly towards Tehran, rather than Baghdad.

By Karim HAKIKI , Amar Mohammed Sahib AL HAMEEDAWI

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-04-20 Africa

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Every year, China slaughters millions of donkeys to make Ejiao, a traditional medicine hailed as a ‘miracle elixir’ which is used to treat various ailments. As China’s donkey...

Read more

2018-04-13 Americas

From Brazil to Canada: the new odyssey for African migrants

Canada has become the new El Dorado for many African migrants, who have seen Europe and the United States close their borders. But they face a dangerous journey across South and...

Read more

2018-04-06 Africa

Video: Mauritanian Sahara delights tourists again after years blighted by terror

After years blighted by terror attacks, tourists are beginning to return to Mauritania. Charter flights between Paris and the Mauritanian Sahara resumed in December 2017....

Read more

2018-03-30 Middle East

Video: Fighting for survival in war-torn Yemen

Since 2015, Yemen has been locked in a civil war in which Saudi Arabia – a supporter of Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi-- has led a Sunni coalition against Houthi...

Read more

2018-03-23 terrorism

Inside the Kurdish courts trying IS group militants

The long and gruesome war that the Kurds have waged against the Islamic State (IS) group has not only left thousands dead but also produced many prisoners. For the first time, a...

Read more