Iraqi Shiite cleric thanks Erdogan for a Ashura remarks
Iraq's Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sent a letter this week to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, thanking him for his speech marking Ashura, a day of mourning for Shiite Muslims commemorating the death in 680 of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Mohammed, in the Battle of Karbala. Speaking in Istanbul's Halkali district, Erdogan said the historical tragedy had ultimately helped foster brotherhood in the Muslim world. Erdogan's message marking Ashura followed allegations that Turkey had supported Sunni groups during efforts to form a new Iraqi government, claims denied by Ankara. "You have touched the hearts of each and every Muslim. You have done what no other Muslim leader has done," al-Sadr told Erdogan in his letter. Erdogan said in his speech that "martyrdom of Hussein was not a farewell but a reunion, not an end but a start… Those who try to take advantage of Karbala by making it as a point of division or hostility for Muslims are betraying the legacy of the prophet's grandson." Karbala's pain is still alive in our hearts, even after nearly 1,400 years, Erdogan said. The anti-American al-Sadr now represents one of the main players in Iraqi politics, following an uneasy detente reached between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Sadrists several months ago to form a government after years of fighting each other.