From the Boston Globe, with thanks to Mackie, a glimpse inside a Shi’ite mosque in Baghdad:
Alternately raucous and sober, yesterday’s prayers offered a stark glimpse of how Shi’ite clerics get their followers to speak in one voice on the social and political issues of the day.
“We thirst for martyrdom,” said 24-year-old Abdul Allah Abed, a carpenter who also volunteers in the Army of the Mahdi. “We are not scared.” He, like the hundreds of other Mahdi members ringing the mosque area, wore all black; the group, thousands strong, answers to Moqtada al-Sadr, the young firebrand anti-American cleric. …
Shortly after noon, a crowd of 10,000 men on prayer rugs, filling the entire street in front of the mosque, chanted as one to the call of the imam, Sheik Nassir al-Saidi.
“Yes, yes to Islam! Yes, yes to al-Sadr!” they shouted after the imam offered a prayer to all the martyred descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. …
He also denounced the interim constitution approved by the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which sets the structure for a caretaker government to supervise national elections.
“You should not say you support the interim constitution. You should say you reject it,” Saidi said, adding that God would send supporters of the plan to hell.