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NAJAF, IRAQ - APRIL 23 : A father prepares to cut the head of his son during a Shiite ritual April 23, 2003 in Najaf, Iraq. The ritual, which has been frowned upon by some moderate Shiite clerics, is meant to mourn the loss Hussayn, their beloved religious Imam, and to express the Shiite's collective suffering and sorrow over his death in A.D. 680. Powerless under Saddam and predominately poor, the Shiites of Iraq now find themselves major players on the world stage often at odds with the world's only remaining superpower. Making up over 65 percent of Iraq's population the success or failure of the United States' occupation of Iraq rests squarely on the shoulders of this previously marginalized group of people. The Shiites of Iraq are a diverse people who's beliefs range from the radical, as seen in Muqtada al-Sadr's morals court, to the progressive, as seen at Baghdad's elite universities where Shiites, Sunni's, and Christians mix freely. They are a people who have survived Saddam's killing fields, found solace in their religious rituals, and are poised to take the reins of power for the first time in modern history.
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©2003 Matt Moyer
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Shiites of Iraq
NAJAF, IRAQ - APRIL 23 : A father prepares to cut the head of his son during a Shiite ritual April 23, 2003 in Najaf, Iraq. The ritual, which has been frowned upon by some moderate Shiite clerics, is meant to mourn the loss Hussayn, their beloved religious Imam, and to express the Shiite's collective suffering and sorrow over his death in A.D. 680. Powerless under Saddam and predominately poor, the Shiites of Iraq now find themselves major players on the world stage often at odds with the world's only remaining superpower. Making up over 65 percent of Iraq's population the success or failure of the United States' occupation of Iraq rests squarely on the shoulders of this previously marginalized group of people. The Shiites of Iraq are a diverse people who's beliefs range from the radical, as seen in Muqtada al-Sadr's morals court, to the progressive, as seen at Baghdad's elite universities where Shiites, Sunni's, and Christians mix freely. They are a people who have survived Saddam's killing fields, found solace in their religious rituals, and are poised to take the reins of power for the first time in modern history.