Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Zogby/Abu Dhabi TV poll says only 9% of Sunnis will vote in the election -- and The New York Times reports on an influential Shiite cleric in Baghdad whose Friday sermon is a signal to Shiites that they shouldn't vote:

Less than 48 hours before nationwide elections here, Nasir al-Saedy, one of the city's most popular Shiite clerics, stood before a crowd of 20,000 Iraqis and uttered not a single word about the vote.

Sheik Saedy spoke of faith, humility and the power of God. But about Sunday's elections, the first here in more than 30 years, nothing.

For the throngs of Iraqis who had come to Al Mohsen Mosque to listen, the sheik's silence came through loud and clear.

And it foreshadowed a less than overwhelming voter turnout in many parts of Iraq.

"God willing, I will not be voting," Ziad Qadam, an unemployed 27-year-old, said after Friday Prayers at the mosque in Sadr City, the vast Shiite district in Baghdad. "Our religious leaders have not told us to vote."

Sheik Saedy is an acolyte of Moktada al-Sadr, the rebel Shiite cleric....

Yeesh. Oh, and the president of Iraq, Ghazi al-Yawer, predicts that most Iraqis won't vote.

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