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Patriotic AyatollahsNationalism in Post-Saddam Iraq$
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Caroleen Marji Sayej

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781501715211

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501715211.001.0001

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Local and Regional Sectarian Narratives

Local and Regional Sectarian Narratives

(p.127) 5 Local and Regional Sectarian Narratives
Patriotic Ayatollahs

Caroleen Marji Sayej

Cornell University Press

This chapter challenges the narrative that conflict in Iraq was sectarian in nature. Conflict was the product of local and regional sectarian narratives that dominated the Iraqi landscape, and helped to justify the violence on the ground. The ayatollahs tackled this rhetoric head on. They rejected both the sectarian interpretation of Iraqi history and its implications for Iraq’s present and future. They appealed to pan-Iraqi unity and nationalism. They worked hard to undo the narrative that held Iraq to be a “patchwork” of incommensurable groups. They instead offered a counter-narrative of unity and harmony and issued decrees about the harm of communal violence. Most importantly, the ayatollahs wrote extensively about the need for a centralized state and a redefinition of citizenship away from sectarian notions. This chapter focuses on the writings of Ayatollahs Sistani, Saeed al-Hakim and Muhammad Ishaq al-Fayyad.

Keywords:   sectarianism, Shiite crescent, artificiality, vilayets, Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri, umma, ijtihad, taqlid, Hosni Mubarak, King Abdallah

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