Iraqi Bloggers Roundup

Monday, September 06, 2004

Good News from Najaf

Despite the recent truce in Najaf, the local citizens have once again taken to the streets in protest. How is this good news? Because it's a protest against Al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army:

Najaf protesters want Sadr out
The Washinton Times

Residents of Najaf, Iraq took to the streets Monday calling on radical cleric Moqtada Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia to leave the holy Shiite city.

Witnesses said protesters chanted anti-Sadr slogans screaming "take you hands off the city, the people of Najaf do not want you."

The protest, the second of its kind in two days, coincided with a meeting in Najaf between Sadr and grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in addition to Najaf's governor Adnan al-Zarfi and Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI.
The recurring protests against the presence of the Mehdi Army constituted the biggest challenge to Sadr's claim to speak for a large portion of Iraq's majority Shiite community.

Sadr's militia battled U.S.-backed Iraqi forces for three weeks in Najaf last month, claiming the lives of dozens of Iraqis.


AYS at Iraq at a Glance is also encouraged by this news:

"My God..what a great last the Iraqi people got out to the streets of AlNajaf in a demonstration against Muqtada, they want him to get out of the city and also do not want any one of his followers to pray there..They were cursing his militia, courts and they looked so angry..AlHurra channel met few of them who said ‘we don’t want him..they are thieves’ The people were repeating words that support the ING and IP and wanted the government to put an end to what they called ‘a disgrace’ and ‘crimes’ that happened in AlNajaf especially the courts of Muqtada.."

AYS also includes photos of the demonstration from the broadcast by the Iraqi channel AlHurra.


This is actually the second demonstration held by the citizens of Najaf against Sadr and his militia:

Police in Najaf, Kufa confront worshippers approaching mosques
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Posted on Fri, Sep. 03, 2004

In Najaf, scores of demonstrators took to the streets in the battle-scarred heart of the city near the Imam Ali shrine to protest the presence of al-Sadr and his militia and to back Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, who brokered last week's peace deal. The agreement called for the Mahdi Army to give up its arms, but many militia members in Najaf are thought to have kept them, hiding them at home or elsewhere.

"The demands of the demonstrators in general and for the people of Najaf especially are to ensure safety and security and to have stability back," said one protester, 38-year-old Abu Mohammed al-Najafi, identifying himself with a nickname.

Demonstrators shouted chants denouncing al-Sadr, including one that equated him with deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.


Sorry Khalid, looks like Al-Sadr is an "extra super popular hero" to you, but not the citizens of Najaf.