Letter From Iraq: Heeding the Call Of The Cleric

A day with al-Sadr's faithful reveals why the rebel leader's popularity is growing

Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!" The chants of the faithful drown out the gunfire around the mosque in Kufa. Thousands have gathered to hear Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq's best-known rebel cleric, lead Friday prayers. A fire fight is raging for control of a nearby bridge, between members of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and U.S. forces. There's another battle up the road in al-Sadr's hometown, Najaf. As the mosque broadcasts reports of glorious victories over U.S. tanks, the worshippers seem unmoved by the fighting. "The U.S. troops do this every Friday," says one of the faithful, Sheik Halim al-Fatlawi. "The Americans want to terrorize us into...

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