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Iraq’s Distinguished Cleric Sadr slams Baghdad protest ban

20 April 2011 17:28

Iraq’s influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has taken a swipe at the government, insisting that imposed ban on public protests in Iraqi capital of Baghdad is “undemocratic”.

Sadr’s remarks came after the Iraqi government barred public rallies across the capital.

Last week, Iraqi authorities announced that the protesters were only allowed to gather at three football stadiums in Baghdad since shopkeepers in the city’s main Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests, complained of losing business during weekly protests.

“The government claims democracy, and this is undemocratic,” Sadr declared in a written response to queries about the protest ban from his followers, AFP reported.

“I think this decision shows the government’s fear of demonstrations. The move is ridiculous and meaningless,” leader of Sadr Movement added.

Since late February, massive groups of demonstrators have staged weekly protest rallies in major Iraqi cities, including the capital Baghdad, protesting against corruption, unemployment and poor government services.

The protesters, however, do not seek regime change but merely reforms and better living conditions.

Meanwhile, around 150 people were injured in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region after security forces opened fire on a group of demonstrators in Sulaymanieh on Monday.

Protesters in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan have been calling for an end to official corruption and the resignation of the regional government since February.

Following the violence, authorities in Sulaymanieh announced a ban on unauthorized protests.

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