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article imageTop Shia cleric Sistani supports Iraq protesters' demands

By Ken Hanly     Nov 18, 2019 in Politics
Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has given his support to protests calling for an end to rampant corruption in the Iraqi government and a solution for mass unemployment.
Sistani claimed the government was deluded if it thought it could avoid real reform as it had been doing through stalling and delaying tactics.
The protests
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets since 1 October with a number of demands. Among them are a demand for more jobs, a stop to corruption and improved public services.
At least 319 people have been killed at the protests, where security forces have fired live rounds and tear gas. Both the US and the UN have urged the Iraqi authorities to refrain from using fatal violence against protesters. They also have urged early elections together with electoral reforms.
Sistani's position
Sistani announced his support for the demands of the protesters at a Friday sermon in the city of Karbala: “If those in power think that they can evade the benefits of real reform by stalling and procrastination, they are delusional. What comes after these protests will not be the same as before, and they should be aware of that. "
After the sermon was delivered by a representative in Karbala large numbers of protesters took to the streets of Najaf south of the capital Baghdad. Sistani is based in Najaf but never appears in public.
Bomb goes off in Baghdad
Al Jazeera reported: "A deadly bomb blast has exploded in central Baghdad, the hub of anti-government protests that have gripped Iraq for weeks, as clashes between demonstrators and Iraqi security forces resumed. At least two people were killed and 12 others were wounded after an improvised explosive device that was placed under a vehicle went off late on Friday, according to security sources and medics." Panic set in after the bomb went off. It is not clear whether the bomb was targeting protesters.
Security forces kill protesters in Baghdad
Separate to the bomb incident Iraqi security forces as well as tear gas fired live bullets at demonstrators in the center of Baghdad killing at least three people and wounding another 25. Demonstrators were trying to bring down a concrete wall blocking access to a square. Security forces built the barrier to keep demonstrators from crossing a bridge leading to the fortified Green Zone which houses government buildings and foreign embassies including the huge US embassy.
More about Ayatollah Ali Sistan, Iraq protests, Iraq protest casualties
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