As Iraq remains gripped by violence and political turmoil, Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr is once again mobilising Iraqis against the government on a scale that is unprecedented in Iraq’s recent protest movement.

Considered one of the most influential people in the country, Sadr leads a populist movement, controls one of the biggest political blocs in parliament and commands a powerful militia. The 42-year-old is also viewed as a champion of Iraqi nationalism, enthusiastically working with a cross section of Iraqi intellectuals to help forge a national unity platform to reform Iraq’s fundamentally flawed governance.

Sadr, however, remains a controversial figure. Soon after he launched his Sadrist Movement, following the US occupation of Iraq in 2003, Sadr was accused of being a destabilising force and a divisive figure who stoked sectarian tension.

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