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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
In quotes: Moqtada Sadr's fiery rhetoric
Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr
Mr Sadr's supporters are still a minority among Iraq's Shias

The youthful Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has emerged as one of main thorns in the side of the US-led coalition in Iraq over the past five months.

Mr Sadr, a radical within Iraq's Shia religious establishment, has attracted much support of poorer and younger Shias by his increasingly uncompromising criticism of the occupation, the United States and Israel.

The cleric has always shied away from an outright call to violence, but urged his supporters to consider "other methods" in place of peaceful protest following the closure of his newspaper Al-Hawzah last week.

The following is a selection of recent quotes by him and his newspaper Al-Hawza:

Terrorise your enemies as we cannot remain silent at their violations. Otherwise, we will reach a stage when the consequences will be serious... I am concerned about you because demonstrations are useless... Your enemy loves terrorism and scorns nations and all Arabs. It seeks to silence the opinions of others. I appeal to you not to resort to demonstrations because they have become useless. You should resort to other methods.

Quoted by Iraqi web site Sharja Al-Khalij, 5 Apr 04

From here I announce my solidarity with the genuine unity announced by Hezbollah general secretary Hassan Nasrallah with the mujahideen movement Hamas. Let them consider me their striking hand in Iraq whenever the need arises. As the martyr Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said, Iraq and Palestine have the same destiny.

Speaking on Al-Manar TV, 2 Apr 04

The [Iraqi] Governing Council should dissolve itself or keep its distance from the tyrannical US demands. It should also renounce this unjust, terrorist document, or what they refer to as the constitution or the law.

Speaking on Al-Jazeera TV, 26 Mar 04

I will only negotiate with the Americans if their country says that it has come here to liberate us not to occupy us, as occupying a country is incompatible with the very principle of negotiations... We are not hostile to America, but we are the enemy of occupation... I only want a government based on freedom and rule by the people. Obviously, such a government will be an Islamic one.

Interview with Iranian news agency Irna, 23 Feb 04

It is the Jewish design to expand their state from the Nile to the Euphrates. They have weapons of mass destruction. So would you apply to them the same method you use with the Islamic or Arab states, such as Iran, Libya, Pakistan, and India? For example, would their Arab supporter in charge of inspection [International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei] inspect Israel? Where are the superpowers? Where is the UN Security Council? Where is the United Nations?

Quoted by Al-Jazeera TV, 30 Jan 04

I hope you will send my greetings and my thanks to the American people who love peace. I thank them because they supported us by demonstrations. I love them because I wanted to guide them to God and I wish to unify them with our people. So let Ramadan be a meeting for us of peace and settlement, a month of preventing bloodshed, wars and terrorism. This month will be a seed of unity and brotherhood between the two peoples and the two religions.

Letter to occupying forces to mark Ramadan published in Sadr's Al-Hawzah newspaper, 6 Nov 03

Our army does not possess military arms but is armed with faith... I do not say its inclination is not a military one but we are concerned with maintaining security and stability in our region. We also seek to serve all those present on the soil of Iraq without exception.

Quoted in Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Ra'y al-Amm, 5 Nov 03

We have been keen and are still keen to avoid a clash with the occupation forces. But as I have said, we continue to face, almost on a daily basis, an intense campaign of escalation, harassment and provocation... Our course is to avoid collision and bloodshed as long the path of politics, diplomacy and negotiation remains open.

Quoted by Lebanese web site Al-Safir, 5 Nov 03

The Untied States did not only come to overthrow Saddam only or take our oil. It came with the intention of destroying the whole cultural, moral, and humanitarian structure of Iraqi civilization and replace it by a structure producing thorns, moss, and a defeated nation.

Quote from editorial in Sadr's Al-Hawza newspaper, 7 Aug 2003

It is a constitution that forgets the fact that most of the country's inhabitants are Muslims, or that is written by irreligious or un-Islamic hands. It is an unacceptable constitution that forgets that the Shias are the majority in this country, or that is written by the hands of their enemies. A constitution that strips from Iraq its oriental character, religious faith, ethics and history is a mischievous constitution that is not worth the paper it is written on.

Quote from editorial on Iraq's interim constitution in Sadr's Al-Hawza newspaper, 7 Aug 2003

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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