Firebrand cleric green-lights fresh protests in Iraq




Protests shook Iraq for six days from October 1, with young Iraqis denouncing corruption and demanding jobs and services before calling for the downfall of the government
Protests shook Iraq for six days from October 1, with young Iraqis denouncing corruption and demanding jobs and services before calling for the downfall of the government  

Baghdad (AFP) - Influential Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has given his supporters the green light to resume anti-government protests, after the movement was interrupted following a deadly crackdown.

Protests shook Iraq for six days from October 1, with young Iraqis denouncing corruption and demanding jobs and services before calling for the downfall of the government.

The protests -- notable for their spontaneity -- were violently suppressed, with official counts reporting 110 people killed and 6,000 wounded, most of them demonstrators.

Calls have been made on social media for fresh rallies on Friday, the anniversary of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi's government taking office.

"It's your right to participate in protests on October 25," Sadr told his followers in a Facebook post on Saturday evening.

Protesters have opposed any appropriation of their leaderless movement and the firebrand cleric was restrained on Sunday in comparison to his previous exhortations for "million-man marches".

He qualified his support by adding: "Those who don't want to take part in this revolution can choose another via the ballot box in internationally supervised elections and without the current politicians," he said.

His statement echoed another he made during protests at the start of the month, in which he called on the government -- of which his bloc is a part -- to resign and hold early elections "under UN supervision".

In his latest message, Sadr called on his supporters to protest peacefully.

"They expect you to be armed," he said, alluding to authorities blaming "saboteurs" for infiltrating protests. "But I don't think you will be."

Sadr's influence was on display Saturday during the Shiite Arbaeen pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala, 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad.

Thousands of his supporters heeded his call to dress in white shrouds and chanted, "Baghdad free, out with the corrupt!"

October 25 will also mark the deadline issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, spiritual leader for Iraq's Shiite majority, for the government to respond to protester demands.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Iraq officials must
Iraq officials must 'step up' to enact reforms: UN envoy to AFP
  • World
  • 2019-11-13 17:11:50Z

Iraqi officials must ramp up their response to mass demonstrations demanding an overhaul of the political system, the United Nations' representative in Baghdad told AFP in an exclusive interview Wednesday. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who heads the UN's Iraq mission (UNAMI), said the country's authorities must "step up to the plate and make things happen". The UN has put forward a phased roadmap, backed by the country's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, calling for an immediate end to violence, electoral reform and anti-graft measures within two weeks.

Iraqi Kurdish president in protest-hit Baghdad for talks
Iraqi Kurdish president in protest-hit Baghdad for talks
  • World
  • 2019-11-13 09:16:25Z

The president of Iraqi Kurdistan travelled to Baghdad on Wednesday for talks with senior officials just hours ahead of a special parliament session to discuss weeks of deadly anti-government demonstrations. The head of the United Nations' mission in Iraq (UNAMI) was expected to attend the legislative meeting in the afternoon as diplomatic pressure on Baghdad intensifies. Protests demanding a new leadership have rocked Iraq's capital and Shiite-majority south for weeks, the demonstrators undeterred by government pledges of reform or the deaths of more than 300 people.

Iraq demonstrations flare as Baghdad faces renewed pressure
Iraq demonstrations flare as Baghdad faces renewed pressure
  • World
  • 2019-11-13 00:23:46Z

Anti-government rallies swelled in Iraq's capital and south Wednesday as Baghdad faced new pressure from both the street and the United Nations to respond seriously to weeks of demonstrations. "We're here to back the protesters and their legitimate demands, which include teachers' rights," said Aqeel Atshan, a professor on strike in Baghdad's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the epicentre of the protest movement.

Iraqi protesters rally as UN steps up mediation efforts
Iraqi protesters rally as UN steps up mediation efforts
  • World
  • 2019-11-12 11:54:33Z

Iraqi protesters rallied and many schools stayed closed Tuesday as the United Nations stepped up pressure on the government to agree to a raft of reforms. While security forces again faced off with activists around Baghdad's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, teachers and students went on strike across much of the Shiite-majority south. The UN's top Iraq representative, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, met with Iraq's top religious authority on Monday, days after influential neighbour Iran brokered a political deal to keep the ruling system in place.

UN, top Iraq cleric urge
UN, top Iraq cleric urge 'serious' reforms after protests
  • World
  • 2019-11-11 11:57:07Z

The United Nations' top official in Iraq and the country's most senior cleric urged authorities on Monday to get "serious" about reforms after anti-government demonstrations that have left hundreds dead. Mass rallies calling for an overhaul of the ruling system have rocked the capital Baghdad and the Shiite-majority south since October 1 -- the largest and deadliest popular movement in Iraq in decades. The bloody unrest has sparked serious concern from the UN, human rights groups and the White House, which on Sunday called on Baghdad "to halt the violence against protesters" and pass electoral reform.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America