First Published: 2004-03-19

Iraqis stage anti-US demonstration

Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites stage joint anti-US protest calling for end to American occupation on eve of war anniversary.


Middle East Online

What have the Iraqis gained from this occupation, asked one imam

BAGHDAD - Up to three thousand Iraqi Sunni and Shiite Muslims staged a joint protest here Friday calling for an end to "American occupation" of their country, on the eve of the first anniversary of the US-led war.

They took to the streets in a peaceful march after weekly midday prayers, saying they were opposed to US military presence in Iraq as well as the deposed regime of former leader Saddam Hussein.

"No to Saddam. No to the Americans. Yes to Islam," the worshippers chanted before leaving the Kazimiya mosque, which is home to the mausoleum of Imam Mussa al-Kazem and is the holiest Shiite shrine in Baghdad.

During the service, imam Saeed Hazim al-Araji deplored the situation in Iraq and blamed the post-war situation on the US troops deployed in the country.

"Some Iraqis speak of liberation but most consider that it is an invasion and we are against this occupation," Araji said in his sermon.

"What have the Iraqis gained from this occupation," he asked, listing among the current woes the detention by US troops of Muslim clerics and "10,000 Iraqis" and roadblocks that cripple life in the country.

"We are all time-bombs at the service of the Hawza (the Shiite religious authority)," the imam told the worshippers, urging them to join ranks "with our Sunni brothers" and protest against US presence in Iraq peacefully.

The Americans, he said, "are violating Iraq".

The Shiite worshippers left the mosque and headed for the neighborhood of Azamiya across the Tigris River to link up with Sunni protesters gathered outside one of their mosques.

There they mingled, holding up placards in Arabic and English denouncing "American terrorism".

"Human rights have disappeared" said one sign. Another called for the "end to destruction" in Iraq and a third condemned the "indiscriminate" firing of US troops on suspects in the Iraqi capital.

"Before the war, Iraq had no links whatsoever to international terrorism," Sunni cleric Jawad al-Khalissi said.

"Occupation brought international terrorism to our land," he added, blaming the US presence in Iraq for nearly daily bombings and attacks that have rocked the war-battered country since major combat was declared over last May 1.

Khalissi also denounced the US military for detaining thousands of Iraqi and said: "The Americans refuse to allow journalists to visit thousands of Iraqi prisoners and won't allow them (detainees) to have access to lawyers".

The Shiites, who were the target of deadly attacks on March 2 in Kazimiya, blamed the US troops for the lack of security in the country.

The protesters also denounced an interim constitution signed on March 8 by the US-appointed Governing Council and called for speedy elections in Iraq.


At least 13 killed in Yemen wedding bombing

Israel-Palestinian unrest at risk of turning into religious war

Israeli PM bars ministers from Al-Aqsa compound

US has not yet made decision on Syria no-fly zone

Russian volunteers fighting for Assad regime

Three more stabbing attacks as Palestine-Israel violence continues

Violence in Jerusalem continues

Turkey gives EU's migrant plan offer lukewarm reception

Erdogan uses nuclear, gas deals to pressure Russia over Syria

HRW urges statement from West over imprisoned Bahrain dissidents

EU aim to have migrant 'hotspots' ready by end of November ‘unrealistic’

After nuclear deal, Iran takes central role to end Syria war

Escape or temporary move: Erdogan son settles in Italy

ISIS attack complicates task for Arab coalition in Yemen

Syria army launches broad ground operation in Hama province

Number of confirmed cholera cases rises to 1,200 in Iraq

Russia ‘ready’ to establish contacts with Free Syrian Army

Turkey arrests six people over 'minting coins for ISIS’

US insists no military cooperation with Russia in Syria conflict

Russia warships fire cruise missiles to back Syria army operation

New violence rocks Israel, West Bank

Mortar attack wounds Lebanon soldiers near border with Syria

Iraq forces recapture several areas around Ramadi

Saleh’s party ‘ready’ for UN-brokered Yemen peace

Erdogan’s vision of Syria’s future torn up by Putin

IS bombings will not deter Yemen govt from staying in Aden

EU to ease Turkey migrant burden on conditions

EU kicks off military operation against ‘mafia of the sea’

Russia air strikes targeting Chechen jihadists in Syria

Russia examining US proposals to coordinate Syria strikes

Russia hints at willingness on Syria 'deconfliction' with US

France may strip five terrorists of nationality

Israel demolition policy: Collective punishment in violation of international law

Violence in Yemen may trigger world's next great refugee crisis

EU to 'step up' work on resettlement of refugees from Turkey

Tunisia dismantles three ISIS recruitment cells

Russia not cooperating with US in Syria safety talks

Halal economy set to grow worldwide

‘Islamic State’ claims series of deadly attacks in Yemen

Recent unrest leaves Netanyahu with tough political choices

NATO accuses Russia of violating Turkey airspace

Unpaid teachers in Iraq Kurdistan go on strike to end ‘farce’

Erdogan warns Russia not to destroy friendship with Turkey

Arab coalition troops among 15 killed in Yemen attacks

Russia has created ‘de facto no-fly zone’ for Assad