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.

 

World leaders condemn Britain terror attack

UN-backed Syria talks restart in Geneva

10 Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai roadside bombings

Erdogan warns Europeans risk being ‘unsafe’ on world’s streets

Saudi film festival launch postponed after sandstorm

Britain arrests eight as IS claims Westminster attack

Man attempts to drive into crowd of shoppers in Belgium’s Antwerp

Palestinian FA chief says ball in Israel's court

Israel arrests Jewish teen over anti-Semitic terror threats

An Egypt court is to reopen a corruption probe into Mubarak

Bahrain frees award-winning AFP photographer

Erdogan slams 'pressure' on Turks in Bulgaria ahead of vote

Israel policeman suspended after caught on video beating Palestinian

Turkey summons Russia envoy over soldier death in Syria

Bahrain sentences three to death for police bombings

EU summons Turkey envoy over 'safety' remarks

400,000 'trapped' in west Mosul's Old City

Qaeda, IS developing harder-to-detect bombs say experts

Terrorist attack at London’s Houses of Parliament

2016 saw sharp rise in illegal Israeli settlement projects

US-led coalition vows lasting victory against IS

Bahrain arrests photographer on unspecified charges

Humanitarian groups demand access to Yemen civilians suffering 'open-air massacre'

33 killed in US-led air strike on north Syria

Rights group says Libyan military committed war crimes

Israel seals East Jerusalem home of Palestinian attacker's family

Migrants in Europe at risk of drug-resistant tuberculosis

Iraqis urged to avoid hurried mass grave exhumations

Turkey steps up objection to US flight laptop ban

Britain joins US in banning laptops on flights from Turkey, Arab world

Anti-IS coalition gathers in Washington to hear Trump plan

Turkey links Gulen to murder of Armenian journalist

Kuwait bans hit movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Five dead in Mogadishu bombing

Khamenei fleshes out 'Made in Iran' vision

Turkey to ask US to reverse flight laptop ban

Israeli army says Hezbollah commander killed by own men

Kurds celebrate Newroz in Turkey's southeast despite shooting

Turkey’s AKP says no more campaign rallies in Germany

Chinese president calls for peace in meeting with Netanyahu

Iraq forces gain ground in Mosul

US bans electronic devices from cabins on Middle East flights

Erdogan says yes vote best response to 'fascist Europe'

Arab Israeli woman gets 50 months prison for joining IS

All Syria sides confirm attendance at Geneva talks