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Iraq's Person of the Year?
Results Are In, Senior Iraqi Cleric Was Most Influential Iraqi in 2015

Iman Asaad
A NIQASH poll on social media asked Iraqis to choose the person they thought was most influential in the country in 2015. Three weeks later, the results are in.
28.01.2016  |  Erbil
Senior cleric, Ali al-Sistani (centre) is Iraq's Person of the Year, according to voters on social media.
Senior cleric, Ali al-Sistani (centre) is Iraq's Person of the Year, according to voters on social media.

At the beginning of the year NIQASH asked readers who they thought might have been 2015's Iraqi of the Year - that is, which person had the most impact on the country over the course of the past year. NIQASH's editors tried to answer the question themselves and also posed the question on Facebook. Just over three weeks, over 600 Facebook posts and much online debate later, the results are in.

Winning the poll with just over 41 percent of the votes was one of Iraq's leading spiritual authorities, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

The Iraqis voting for al-Sistani said they chose him because of his position as the spiritual authority for millions of Shiite Muslims around the world as well as his recent role in political events, where he has supported attempts at reform by current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and his role in the security crisis caused by the extremist group known as the Islamic State, where he asked all Iraqis to help defend the country. Many of the voters commented that they felt that al-Sistani had helped to save Iraq.

Coming in second was the controversial President of the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani. He received around 36 percent of respondents' votes because he was seen as having protected Iraqi Kurdistan as well as being willing to host thousands of displaced Iraqis, who had sought shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has remained relatively safe.

The poll is unofficial and it's hard to say where most of the voters come from in Iraq; judging by the results one might suspect most were from Shiite Muslim areas or from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Other Iraqis chose another controversial figure in Iraqi politics, Hadi al-Ameri, who heads the Badr organisation and is a leader of one of Iraq's most powerful Shiite Muslim volunteer militias. He was praised mainly for his decision "to leave politics and join in the fight against the Islamic State group".

The founder of Iraqi Kurdish opposition party, the Change movement, Nechirvan Mustafa, came fourth and the Iraqis who continued to demonstrate against corruption and lack of state services came fifth. The last discernible victor in the poll was Vian Dakhil, the politician who highlighted the plight of her own Yazidi people, both locally and around the world, after they were attacked by the Islamic State group.

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