Hundreds of lawyers took to the streets across Iraq on Thursday to protest against widespread corruption and unemployment in demonstrations inspired by anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
The demonstrations in Baghdad, Karbala, Kut, Ramadi and Amara came a day after Iraq’s anti-corruption chief said ministers frequently covered up graft in their departments.
In the capital, around 500 people, mostly lawyers but also including some tribal sheikhs, called for the government to open up so-called “secret prisons” to scrutiny, give detainees access to legal counsel and take stronger measures to fight corruption and boost employment.
“This demonstration will not end until our demands are met,” Kadhim al-Zubaidi, spokesman for the Baghdad lawyers’ guild, told AFP.
“We want lawyers to be protected, the corrupt to be fired, and more jobs for the Iraqi people.”
Liz Sly of the Washington Post recently covered the angle that Maliki’s statements were influenced by Egypt, itemizing recent unrest in Iraq:
His comment coincides with an upsurge of scattered protests across the country demanding better services, jobs and an end to corruption, apparently inspired by the pro-democracy demonstrations underway in Cairo and those that toppled Tunisia’s long-serving president last month.
Police in Najaf broke up an attempted demonstration in support of the Egyptian people Saturday after the governor of Najaf refused to grant permission. The gathering was organized by the Najaf office of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to police Col. Ali Jarayo.
On Thursday, police injured four people when they fired into the air to quell an unruly crowd of about 700 stone-throwing demonstrators protesting poor services in the southern province of Diwaniyah, according to provincial officials there, and a second protest in the province Friday was dispersed without incident.
Senator John McCain took some heat last week for labeling democracy “a virus.” Negative connotations aside, a virus is an apt metaphor for the regional civil protest and freedom of expression, right down to the potential immune responses by security forces.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.