Iraqi Shiite men hold hands and raise their arms as sheik Abdel-Hadi al-Muhammadawi urged Muslims for unity and called foreign "occupiers" to leave Iraq, during noon prayers at the Al-Rohman mosque in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday April 25, 2003. (AP Photo/Ali Ha
NASIRIYAH, Iraq (AP) - Hundreds of white-clad worshippers sat cross-legged on a boulevard in this war-shattered city Friday and listened to a cleric's exhortation: Iraqis must unite to create an Islamic state.
The same message resounded across Iraq on the main day of Muslim prayers, as clerics spoke about the need to come together after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Some urged the United States to leave Iraq.
"It is a happy day for us because we can pray freely. It has been a long time," said Mohamed Ghalib, a 22-year-old student among the 2,000 worshippers filling two blocks of a main thoroughfare in Nasiriyah, the southern city that saw some of the fiercest fighting during the war.
At one Baghdad mosque, worshippers listened to a white-turbaned cleric, Abdel-Hadi al-Muhammadawi, demand that foreign "occupiers" leave Iraq, an apparent reference to the United States and Britain.