Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Backstage at Paris Fashion Week

Read more

FASHION

Paris Fashion Week: Saint Laurent, Lanvin, present new designers

Read more

#THE 51%

Online and proud: Iranian women use social media in a campaign for equality

Read more

#TECH 24

Say hello to Pepper!

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: The final days of Colombia’s FARC guerilla

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Abkhazia, the country that (almost) doesn't exist

Read more

FOCUS

Lawlessness and lynchings in Venezuela

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Volkswagen: ‘We've changed the foundations of our company’

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

The chandelier, master of light

Read more

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

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

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

2016-09-30 Colombia

Video: The final days of Colombia’s FARC guerilla

After waging a 52-year-long insurgency against the authorities in Bogota, Colombia’s FARC guerilla agreed to finally end the bloody conflict that has cost tens of thousands of...

Read more

2016-06-23 World War I

World War I: When northern France was on German time

During World War I, 13 of France's regional departments were under German occupation. For four years, two million French citizens took their orders from Berlin. No more coal for...

Read more

2016-09-23 Burma

Video: In Burma, ex-political prisoners struggle to return to normal life

During a half-century of dictatorship, nearly 10,000 Burmese citizens were imprisoned for their political views. Almost all of these political prisoners suffered physical and...

Read more

2016-09-15 football

Video: African football players dream of kickstarting career in Asia

Southeast Asia is awash with football fever. New leagues and new teams are springing up everywhere - even in countries where the sport was until recently a minority pastime. To...

Read more

2016-09-08 Niger

Video: Niger’s Agadez, gateway to exile

Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, has become one of the main transit points for illegal migrants from West Africa who dream of Europe. We bring you an exceptional...

Read more