Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Mashujaa day: Kenyatta and Odinga call for peace before election rerun

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Kurdish referendum a ‘colossal mistake’, says son of late president Talabani

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The new 30s club: NZ's Jacinda Ardern joins list of maverick leaders

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Raqqa, Kirkuk, Xi Jinping

Read more

REPORTERS

The Dictator's Games: A rare look inside Turkmenistan

Read more

#TECH 24

Teaching maths with holograms

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Is China exporting its pollution?

Read more

#THE 51%

Are female empowerment adverts actually good for the cause?

Read more

FOCUS

The mixed legacy of 'Abenomics' in Japan

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

2017-10-20 Asia-pacific

The Dictator's Games: A rare look inside Turkmenistan

As Turkmenistan hosted the Asian Games in the capital Ashgabat, our reporter managed to obtain a visa to cover the event. He brings us a rare look inside one of the world’s most...

Read more

2017-10-13 Europe

Video: Ghosts of 1917 revolution still haunt Russians

What remains of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia? FRANCE 24 brings you a special documentary on how Russians are living with this cumbersome legacy, as the Kremlin keeps a...

Read more

2017-10-06 Middle East

Video: After the war, life slowly returns to Mosul

FRANCE 24's reporters went back to Mosul, almost three months after Iraqi forces liberated the country’s second city from the grip of the Islamic State (IS) group. The scene of...

Read more

2017-09-29 Africa

Video: Beauty queens to the rescue in Sierra Leone

In January 2016, Sierra Leone, a small West African country torn apart by war and ranked among the poorest in the world, created a sensation at the Miss Universe event. For the...

Read more

2017-06-30 Saudi Arabia

Women in Saudi Arabia: A long road to equality

In Saudi Arabia, women are considered second-class citizens. They cannot drive or travel without the authorisation of a male guardian: a brother, father, cousin or even a son....

Read more