They're not afraid of Shi'ite cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr in Nassiriya.
And it's not just Nassiriya. They turned out across Iraq to protest Friday -- including in Basra and Baghdad. One week after Moqtada unleashed his goons on Nassirya, the people of Iraq rose up to make clear to Moqtada just what a sad little man he actually was.
On Friday, thousands in Nasiriyah held a protest and funeral march for those lives lost.
“The violence last week won’t prevent us from carrying on in our protests. Our only option is achieving the goals of this uprising,” Hussein al-Saidi, a demonstrator in Nasiriyah’s Habboubi square, told AFP.
Habboubi Square is the heart of the anti-government uprising in Nasiriyah and the site of last week’s clashes.
Security forces on Friday had sealed off streets leading to the square to keep a Sadrist rally from reaching it.
Thousands of followers of Sadr, a firebrand cleric who tweets often but is rarely seen in public, held their own prayer-protest on Friday for the second week in a row. Other cities also held rallies in solidarity, with a small flash protest held in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.
In the southern city of Diwaniyah, hundreds gathered to condemn ongoing violence against demonstrators.
“The militias and armed groups are attacking us right under the nose of the government security forces — this government seems to be subject to militia power,” said Mustafa al-Jubeir, a lawyer demonstrating in Diwaniyah.
Soft, fat and spoiled Moqtada thought the Iraqi people feared him. Feared him? Maybe his breath. Like so many overgrown boys who ride their daddy's coattails, Moqtada accomplishing nothing on his own. He is the minor joke in Iraq that never goes away. A ridiculous figure pretending to be powerful and throwing one tantrum after another.
Muhammad al-Sabah (ALMADA) reports Moqtada appears to be attempting to align with another thug, Nouri al-Maliki. Moqtada is calling for a Shi'ite alignment and for making Iraq, ''again,'' a Shi'ite home. Following these calls, Moqtada has been attempting at meet-up with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi; however, mainly Moqtada is attempting to team up with Nouri -- whom Moqtada has been estranged with since spring of 2008 (when Nouri ordered the assault on Basra). An unnamed MP on the Parliament's Defense and Security Committee notes Moqtada wants to bury the hatchet with Nouri. Nouri is the leader of State of Law and SoL member Hussein al-Maliki notes that there have been efforts at building a new relationship and at rebuilding what is known as the Committee of Seven, the Shi'ite blocs in Parliament.
A call by Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to “restore the Shiite home” was met with wide rejection by civil movements and groups, who warned that such slogans would drag the country again into sectarian strife.
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Observers believe that Sadr’s new call falls in the context of his recent struggle with the protest groups, which have openly accused him and his political movement of being behind the attack on the sit-in squares, especially last Friday’s events, which took place in the city of Nasiriyah and led to the killing of seven protesters and the injury of 90 others.
Activists announced on Thursday that the supreme Shiite cleric, Ali al-Sistani, met with a group of protesters, who asked for his protection from the continuous attacks against them.
Sadr’s call also faces widespread rejection within the Shiite popular circles, as well as among the rest of the components.
In this context, the head of the National Wisdom Movement, Ammar al-Hakim, is not likely to welcome Sadr’s invitation, especially as he has been seeking for weeks to build a “cross-sectarian” political alliance to engage in the upcoming elections.
In other news, Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) reports:
Turkish warplanes on Saturday bombed areas on Duhok province’s Gara Mountain, said an official, causing fear among villagers a few kilometers away.
“Two areas were bombed near the villages of Spindar and Grgash,” Sami Barwari, the head of Deraluk town, confirmed to Rudaw’s Nasir Ali on Saturday.
No casualties were reported by Kurdish authorities or locals from the surrounding villages.
Turkey’s Ministry of Defense claimed on Saturday to have killed four members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the same area.
“Every time there is a warplane, the people get scared. It’s a very awful feeling,” Sherwan Sargali, a local from Grgash village, told Rudaw English on Saturday. “What should we do? Should we leave our village and head to a park in Duhok and become refugees?”
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