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.

 

UN envoy in Moscow to save Syrian truce

UN envoy seeks to restart Yemen peace talks

Iraq reform process in limbo after Green Zone storming

Iran to grant citizenship to families of killed foreign recruits

Saudi women to get copy of marriage contracts

EU set to grant Turkey visa-free travel in migrant deal

Israel destroys home of Palestinian suspect's family

Tens of thousands OF Shiite pilgrims flock to Baghdad shrine

EU praises Turkey efforts to meet criteria for visa deal

Sudan claims 'sovereign rights' in dispute with Egypt

Amnesty denounces ‘shocking’ conditions in Iraq detention centre

Carnage in Iraq as deadly car bomb targets Shiite pilgrims

PKK attack kills at least one soldier in southeast Turkey

Turkey pounds ISIS positions in Syria

Five years on, bin Laden doctor languishes in jail

Top Sudan court lifts ban on leading newspaper

Egypt journalists hold sit-in after police raid of press syndicate

US in desperate bid to salvage Syria ceasefire

Iraq protesters quit Green Zone after unprecedented breach

Up to 100 people missing in two Mediterranean shipwrecks

Aden police chief survives new assassination attempt

ISIS claims rare deadly bombings in southern Iraq

Tight security marks world rallies to celebrate Labour Day

Yemen government suspends 'direct' talks with rebels

Russia, US in bids to freeze fighting in Syria's Aleppo

Deadly car bomb hits Turkey refugee hub near Syria border

Iraq PM calls for punishment of protesters involved in violence

Yemen government forces seize Qaeda training camp

Rouhani allies win second round of Iran parliament elections

War continues in Aleppo, with US-Russia agreement

Angry protesters storm Iraq Green Zone

UN council votes to bring back full Western Sahara mission

Air strike hits clinic in rebel-held Aleppo

US, Russia 'agree freeze' on two Syrian fronts

Aleppo mourns paediatrician killed in air strike

Libya unity government vows to end jihadist 'scourge'

Turkey demands 5 years jail for UK academic over 'terror propaganda'

UK pair accused of giving money to Brussels, Paris attacks suspect

Turkey says Bursa bomber linked to PKK

UN rights chief calls Syrian crisis 'shameful realpolitik'

Kuwait steps up deportations of expat workers

South Sudan unveils unity government

Iranians vote in second round of parliamentary elections

Palestinians support, Israel opposes French peace initiative

Biden in surprise Iraq visit to support embattled government