Middle East News
Iraq's religious and political leaders urge people not to protest
Feb 24, 2011, 14:18 GMT
Baghdad - Religious and political leaders have called upon Iraqis not to take part in a protest march scheduled for Friday that has been dubbed the 'Revolution of Iraqi Rage'.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki alleged in a televised speech that loyalists to former leader Saddam Hussein were leading demonstrations in an attempt to stir chaos, and that the protests may be targets of al-Qaeda attacks.
Meeting tribal leaders in the city of Basra, al-Maliki urged tribes not to take part in the protests, according to the Alsumaria news agency.
Alsumaria also reported that Shiite Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani expressed his concern over Friday's planned day of protests. He said that 'infiltrators would take advantage of protests to attack public properties and governmental institutions.'
Iraqi leaders have said that unlike revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and continued revolts in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, Iraq's protests were only aimed at creating chaos.
A Facebook page, calling on Iraqis to protest Friday, had over 4,500 members by midday Thursday.
Protests calling for greater social services have already erupted over the last several days in Fallujah, Kirkuk and the capital Baghdad.
An Iraqi policeman was killed and two protesters wounded this week in protests in Sulaimaniya, where over 6,000 people protested Tuesday.
Last week, a 17-year-old protester died in clashes with security forces in the northern Iraqi Kurdistan region and at least 37 people were injured during demonstrations for greater autonomy there.
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