His Eminence Mohammad bin Mohammad Al-Mansour is the Imam of the Zaidi branch of the Shi‘a sect of Muslims, one of the three main branches of Shi‘a Islam. With approximately ten million followers, Zaidis constitute almost half the entire population of Yemen, and around 3 percent in Saudi Arabia.
Zaidi Muslims are a Shi‘a sect named after the followers of Zaid bin Ali, grandson of al Hussein (grandson of the Prophet Muhammad). The sect was formed by the followers of Zaid bin Ali who led an unsuccessful revolt against the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn Abd Al Malik in 740 CE.
In the past decade a Zaidi movement known as the Shabab al Mumineen led by Hussein Al Houthi has been gaining prominence in the northwest of Yemen. This has stoked some sectarian rivalry in Yemen, between the Zaidi and radical anti-Shi‘a groups who are fearful of the resurgence of Zaidi rule in Yemen. Al Mansour has maintained his quietist approach and enjoys much respect in Yemeni society. Al Mansour was influential in stemming the escalation of conflict in 2005.
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The Arab Spring events have not significantly affected the influence of Imam Al-Mansour.