First Published: 2003-04-23

 
Iraqi Shiites protest US-led occupation
 

Clerics call for peaceful demonstration in Shiite holy city of Karbala to protest against foreign occupation.

 

Middle East Online

Pilgrims sound their drums during the 40th day of mourning for Hussein

KARBALA, Iraq - Iraqi clerics called fresh anti-US protests Wednesday at the climax of a pilgrimage by hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims.

In the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Baghdad, loudspeaker trucks had been touring since Tuesday evening calling for a huge anti-US demonstration the following morning.

"We invite you to join a peaceful protest against the foreign occupation which will leave from the south gate of the Imam Hussein mausoleum," the city's main shrine, the loud-hailers said.

Even before the kick-off time for the rally, chants of "No to America and Saddam, yes to Islam" rang out around the city, from which US troops have kept a discreet distance throughout the pilgrimage.

Organizing committee member Sheikh Raed Haidari said the protest would also target Iraqi National Congress chief Ahmad Chalabi, a deeply secular Shiite regarded by the US military as a possible future leader of Iraq.

"We refuse occupation, we want an elected government that represents the people," Sheikh Raed said.

In a development likely to further inflame tensions between the coalition and Iraq's majority Shiite community, a prominent cleric charged that he had been beaten by US troops.

"Our arrest by the Americans was worse than the arrests that Saddam ordered against our students," Sheikh Mohammed al-Fartusi told Abu Dhabi television.

Fartusi, whose followers said he was detained Sunday along with five other Shiites, reappeared in Baghdad on Tuesday to cheers from hundreds of supporters who had held protests for two days.

"We were beaten .. spent a night with our hands tied behind our backs," Fartusi said, adding however that an American officer did turn up and offer an apology.

"It was disgusting. Despite that none of our young men has pointed a weapon against America ... but next time, God alone knows what popular anger could lead to?" the cleric warned.

US officials have said they could not confirm Fartusi's arrest, but reports that the prominent mullah had been detained infuriated Shiites.

 

Sisi pledges tougher laws against militants after prosecutor killing

28 killed in IS attack on Huthi rebel leaders in Sanaa

Kuwait in ‘state of war’ after mosque suicide bombing

US resumes security aid to Bahrain

Tunisia attack set to wipe $500 million off economy

‘Islamic State’ re-enters Syria border town of Tal Abyad

Defiant tourists stay in Tunisia

Deadly clashes rage on in eastern Libya

Only mobile phone company in Gaza closed by Hamas

Zarif keeps cards close to chest as he meets Kerry

Orange reaches deal with Israel's Partner after spat

Iranians take to streets of Tehran to demand ‘good nuclear deal’

Turkey 'ready to help' Greece out of economic crisis

French prosecutor confirms IS link to factory beheading

Tunisia ‘was not prepared’ for beach massacre

Tunisia makes first beach massacre arrests

IS beheads two female ‘sorcerers’ in Syria

Britons death toll in Tunisia attack to soar to 'around 30'

US official says method found for access to suspect Iran sites

Turkey holds top security meet

Israel to Syria rebels: 'Don't mess with the Druze'

Egypt state prosecutor dead after Cairo bomb attack

Iranians anxious as talks stumble

Qatar concedes 'much more needs to be done' on labour law

'Unprecedented situation' for Sudan's journalists

Egypt's state prosecutor injured in bomb attack

UAE woman sentenced to death for killing US teacher

Israel escorts flotilla defying Gaza blockade

Islamic State 'caliphate' enters second year with more bloodshed

Tunisia to arm tourist police after Sousse attack

Repatriation of two Tunisians once held by CIA

Key confidante of Syria president dies of illness

Libya rival factions sit at same table for first time

Students may have left Sudan for ‘Islamic State’

Tense nuclear talks set to go beyond deadline as differences remain

Kuwait names Saudi man as suicide bomber in mosque attack

Armed police swarm streets of Tunisia beach resorts

Turkey wants more walls on border with Syria

Tunisia unites in pain and shock as hope slips away

Abadi: ‘Unauthorised’ withdrawal of Iraq forces led to loss of Ramadi

Negotiators ‘need to work really hard’ as nuclear talks begin

Iraq arrests Saddam-era official following arduous operation

Syria Kurds take full control of Kobane after killing spree by jihadists

Kuwait tightens security after mosque attack

Thousands of scared tourists scramble to leave Tunisia