The people of Iraq have a historical event coming up: national elections that will determine the country's policy for the next four years, and all kinds of people who claim to be doing God's work - whether legitimate or not, each have their own say.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the highest Shiite religious authority strongly urges his followers to vote conscientiously. His statement, that was posted on his website and handed out as a pamphlet on the streets, at checkpoints in some Baghdadi neighbourhoods, stated that it was a solemn duty to vote – and vote for they who will serve the people. In his statement, he did not name any preferences.
Grand Ayatollah Basheer al Najafi, one of the four senior Marjaiyah (highest Shiite religious authorities), however, came out with a strong opposition to Maliki, incumbent PM, his ministers and party. He publicly accused Maliki and his ministers of corruption, thus almost guaranteeing that none of his (al Najafi's) followers will vote for Maliki and his party.
The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, a Sunni group that used to hold a measure of sway amongst Sunnis, until its chairman, Harith al Dhari, announced one day last year, "We are of al Qaeda – and al Qaeda is of us!", is holding fast to its position that voting under an occupation flag is not legitimate and he who votes is empowering the occupier.
Most other Sunni religious groups, like (religious) Scholars of Iraq, the Sunni Endowment and Iftaa offices in many provincial capitals have announced that voting is a sacred duty, and he who does not comply will have neglected his duty.
Muqtada al Sadr, who enjoys a large number of devoted followers, especially among poor Shiites, and who has opposed the American occupation of Iraq from the start, told his followers in a statement that he considers these elections to be "political resistance", and that they should "unite and vote in order to liberate Iraq and serve your people".
Al Qaeda in Iraq announced, Friday, a curfew on March 7 - Elections' Day, in all of Iraq! And that all God fearing people - especially in the Sunni neighbourhoods, will be expected to observe these instructions and stay at home. The way I understand this is that anyone outside their home on Sunday will be considered an infidel – No? And in their (al Qaeda's) instructions' book, you go to heaven if you gun down an infidel – No? Bad news. God preserve us.