Muqtada threatens General Strike
In his Friday sermon, young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to announce general strike if the US military did not release his followers from imprisonment. He said that the strike would be held on the anniversary of the assassination of his father, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (mid-February 1999). Al-Sadr did not specify which prisoners he wanted released. Some 38 Sadrists were arrested by US forces in Karbala after a mid-October shoot-out between them and the US army, in which a lieutenant colonel was killed. Just a few days ago the US announced the arrest of Amar al-Yasiri, a Shiite clearic in East Baghdad whom the US military suspects of having planned an ambush of US troops that resulted in casualties. (az-Zaman)
Muqtada’s call for a general strike is unlikely to be heeded by many Shiites, even his hundreds of thousands of sympathizers. That is presumably why he scheduled it for such a highly charged and emotional anniversary. It would be difficult to distinguish between those who do not go to work on the anniversary of Sadiq al-Sadr’s martyrdom just to honor him, and those who genuinely support Muqtada’s demand.