Al-Hablusi repeated promises to address unemployment and poverty. But the promises did nothing to stop the unfolding street violence. The deadliest day was Friday, when 22 people were killed in Baghdad. Health officials said many of those victims were wounded in the head and chest.
A previous version of this story was edited to correct the spelling of the Baghdad neighborhood of Zaafaraniyeh. All rights reserved. Play The Associated Press.
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Rusul has by now slept with dozens of men - so many that she has lost count - in the course of these mutaa marriages.
Lessons From a Decade Reporting on Women During the Iraq War
She says the cleric provides her with contraceptive injections to ensure she doesn't get pregnant. Kadhimiya is the location of one of Shia Islam's most important pilgrimage sites. Millions of people come from all over the world to visit the mosque commemorating the martyrdom of the death, in the 8th Century, of Moussa al-Kadhim, the seventh of the 12 Shia imams.
Dotted among the bustling market stalls surrounding the shrine are dozens of offices where couples go to get married under Islamic law, or Sharia, before appearing before a judge to obtain an official marriage certificate. Most couples are seeking permanent marriages. But some are looking for mutaa marriages. Despite being illegal in Iraq, the BBC found that mutaa marriages were widely available in Kadhimiya.
Out of 10 clerics approached by a BBC undercover reporter, eight said they performed them. Of those eight, we had further conversations with two who agreed to approve them for girls as young as nine. It is impossible to quantify exactly how widespread the practice of under-age mutaa marriage is in Iraq. Ghaith Tamimi, a former senior Shia cleric from Karbala, said he witnessed thousands of mutaa marriages but none with children.
He acknowledged that Sunnis also enter into informal marriages, but said the fact that the Shia clerics are closer to those in power means they can act with impunity. The BBC decided to investigate after it was contacted by concerned members of communities in Iraq. In the marriage offices in Kadhimiya, clerics approached by the BBC undercover reporter elaborated on their practice. Some of the clerics also appear unconcerned that the bride in question is very young.
Sharia, meanwhile, says that girls are allowed to marry once they have gone through puberty.
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Clerics are required by Sharia to obtain parental consent if the girl is under-age. But Sayyed Raad is happy to officiate even when our reporter pretends the girl in question is a year-old virgin. Instead he just advises against taking the girl's virginity. He suggests anal sex as an alternative. And he is happy to conduct the ceremony over the phone, with the girl not even present.
Then you agree with her. Then when you come back she's yours. Sayyed Raad brings another young woman available for mutaa marriage to meet our undercover reporter.
When the reporter says he doesn't want to go ahead with the mutaa marriage, Sayyed Raad then offers to use her to find the reporter a younger bride. I will go with her to check the girl and if she's young I will bring her to you. In Karbala, a Shia holy city km [75 miles] south of Baghdad, the BBC asks Sheikh Emad Alassady, the most senior cleric in the city's Sharia marriage office in Karbala mosque, whether he approves of the practice of mutaa marriage.
He says although allowed in Sharia he would never officiate one. Cleric Sayyed Mustafa Salawi says he would be happy to officiate a mutaa marriage between the reporter and a girl the reporter pretends is 12 years old. He is not concerned that the bride is young.
According to Sharia, there is no problem Do what you desire. And when contacted again, a few days later, to find out if he could provide another bride, he is happy to provide a choice of women.
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