Sadr urges security forces to show restraint as Iraqi protests continue

Muqtada al-Sadr.

Baghdad ( – Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on security forces to show restraint in handling peaceful protests staged near oil fields in the country’s southern provinces.

In a Twitter post, Sadr expressed his rejection of “any attack on oppressed protesters,” referring to hundreds of Iraqi youth who have been staging rallies since last week demanding enhanced services and job opportunities.

In his tweet, Sadr expressed hope that peaceful demonstrators would “maintain their country’s public property, which is owned by Iraqi people not by corrupt figures.”

Over the past week, protesters at some southern provinces, including Basra, Najaf, Maysan and Dhi Qar, invaded airports, local councils and main roads protesting poor services and unemployment.

One protester was killed the past week during clashes with security in Basra, prompting Iraqi President Fuad Masum to urge for calm and bring those responsible for the murder of the Iraqi protester to trial as soon as possible.

The president, in his statement, also stressed the protesters’ right to stage rallies and express their opinion freely as long as their protests are practiced in a peaceful manner and not disturbing public order.

He also urged the government bodies to “enter into dialogue with the protesters and listen to their demands,” while warning them of using excessive violence against protesters under any circumstance.

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