Saturday, Oct 18, 2008
Thousands of followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets on Saturday in a demonstration against a pact that would allow U.S. forces to stay in Iraq for three more years.
Marchers waved Iraqi flags and chanted “Yes, yes Iraq! No, no to the occupation!”
A white-turbaned cleric read out what he described as a letter from Sadr calling on parliament to vote down the pact.
“I reject and condemn the continuation of the presence of the occupation force, and its bases on our beloved land,” the letter said, calling the pact “shameful for Iraq.”
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Demonstrators set fire to a U.S. flag, but the atmosphere appeared mostly calm.
“It is a peaceful demonstration, demanding that the occupier leave and the government not sign the pact,” Ahmed al-Masoudi, a Sadrist member of parliament, told Reuters.
Iraqi authorities said the demonstration was authorized and security had been increased to protect the protesters, who were marching from Sadr’s stronghold of Sadr City in the east of the capital to a nearby public square at a university.
This article was posted: Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 4:49 am