February 4, 2013 2 Comments
Background: Iraq is primarily comprised of Sunni Muslims, majority Shiite Muslims, and Kurds. The country was previously led by Sunni Saddam Hussein and is now ruled by Shiite Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Maliki is known to silence free speech, torture prisoners, and engage in “revenge culture” against Sunnis, among other abuses. Since December, Sunnis and some Shiites have participated in political demonstrations against him. Nearly all outlets claim these demonstrations are the result of al-Maliki’s anti-Sunni tactics and the unceasingly sectarian nature of Iraq (LEFT). While recognizing Sunnis do feel targeted, a few alternative writers imply this is the result of a general dissatisfaction with public corruption. They imply the demonstrators’ real qualms arise from al-Maliki’s relations with Iran and cooptation of other government branches, with protesters in their narrative rejecting sectarianism altogether (RIGHT).
Iraq Sunnis stage anti-government protests as Al Qaeda urges them to fight
Feb 1 Fox News
“Tens of thousands of Sunni protesters blocked a major highway in western Iraq on Friday, as an Al Qaeda-affiliated group called on Sunnis to take up arms against the Shiite-led government… mounting sectarian tensions in Iraq…Sunni cleric Abdul-Hameed Jadoua told the crowd that “the blood of the martyrs was shed so that the dignity of our Iraq and our tribes will be restored.”… Sunnis can either bow to Shiites or take up arms and restore “dignity and freedom”…Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has suggested that Al Qaeda and members of Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime are involved…The protesters seek the release of Sunni detainees…and the cancellation of a tough counterterrorism law and other policies they believe overwhelmingly target Sunnis…”
Iraqi Shiite cleric al-Sadr visits church, Sunni mosque as anti-government protests rage
Jan 4 Fox News
“Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr reached out to Iraq’s religious minorities…Al-Sadr, who has voiced support for the protesters…As he entered the mosque, one worshipper called out that he is “the unifier of Sunnis and Shiites.”…The detention of female prisoners has been a focus of the demonstrations, though the protests tap into deeper Sunni feelings of perceived discrimination and unfair application of laws against their sect…They demanded the release of detainees, and held banners with slogans against the perceived politicization of the judiciary. They also called for an end to corruption.Their chants included: “Iran out!” — a reference to what many Iraqis see as their neighbor’s influence over the government — and “Nouri al-Maliki is a liar.”…Among their chants were: “Down, down with al-Maliki” and “No to sectarianism.”…”