OVERVIEW: ISLAMIC PARTIES
Through massive political demonstrations, grass roots organisation and sometimes violent confrontation, the Shia Muslims of Iraq are asserting their identity after years of often brutal oppression under Saddam Hussein.
As the majority community, the Shia are expecting to have a large say in the running of the new Iraq.
Analysts suggest this is going to be very problematic for the US administration in Iraq. Many Shia are calling for an Islamic state and others are calling for the speedy withdrawal of the foreign occupiers.
Within the Shia community there is infighting as young radical leaders are emerging to challenge the traditional clerics, some of whom have returned after years of exile.
Sunni and Kurdish religious groups are also emerging to stake their claim to a role in Iraq's new political life.