ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Top Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Monday that the sit-ins at Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone will continue as Shiite Muslims mark Ashura, adding that reform will emerge victorious in Iraq.
“Just as blood triumphed over the sword in kindness, so will reform triumph over corruption in our beloved Iraq,” Sadr stated in a statement addressing the holy day of Ashura as millions of pilgrims are expected to flock to Iraq’s holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala.
Ashura is the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year. It commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, a Shiite leader and the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was killed in a battle fought at Karbala in 680 AD. The pilgrimage and rituals go on for forty days with the day of Ashura the most crowded.
Thousands of supporters of the revered cleric previously staged an open-ended sit-in in the Iraqi parliament building in protest of rival Coordination Framework’s nominee for the country’s premiership, later withdrawing after the Sadrist Movement ordered them to evacuate the parliament but continue their activities in its vicinity.
“Peace be upon those who follow reform, and there is no consolation for those who follow corruption,” Sadr added.
On Wednesday, the influential cleric called for the dissolution of the Iraqi parliament and holding early elections, later saying that there are “no alternatives” to the notion as a suffocating political deadlock continues to grasp Iraq, with the country currently experiencing a record nearly ten months without a permanent cabinet.
Calls for snap elections by Sadr have also been welcomed by the Coordination Framework, which said it supports any “constitutional path” to resolve the current political impasse in Iraq.