Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
WEDNESDAY, 16 APR 2014
07:14 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
20 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Iraq protester sets self ablaze in anti-government rally
Reuters
Anti-government protesters demonstrate after the weekly Friday prayer in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on January 18, 2013. AFP PHOTO/AZHAR SHALLAL
Anti-government protesters demonstrate after the weekly Friday prayer in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on January 18, 2013. AFP PHOTO/AZHAR SHALLAL
A+ A-

MOSUL, Iraq: An Iraqi protester set himself ablaze on Sunday in a dramatic turn in more than three weeks of rallies by Sunni Muslims challenging Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.

Thousands of Sunni demonstrators have rallied since late December against a Shiite-led government they believe has marginalized their minority sect, raising fears the OPEC country may slide again into widespread sectarian confrontation.

During protests of around 2,000 demonstrators in the northern city of Mosul, one man set himself ablaze before others quickly stamped out the flames with their jackets, police said. He was sent to hospital with burns to his face and hands.

"We don't want people to hang themselves or burn themselves, this would be against Islam," said Ghanim al-Abid, protest organizer in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. "But he reached such a state of despair he set himself on fire."

Self-immolations have had resonance in the Arab world since a Tunisian vegetable seller set himself on fire two years ago. His death in Jan. 2011 triggered the wave of uprisings that toppled leaders across North Africa and the Middle East.

Sunday's incident in Iraq shows the frustration among Sunnis that has not ebbed despite concessions from Maliki.

Many Iraqi Sunnis feel they have been unfairly targeted by security forces and sidelined from power since the fall of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and the rise of the Shiite majority through the ballot box.

Protests have centred Anbar province, a vast desert area that makes up a third of Iraq's territory, populated mainly by Sunnis in towns and settlements along the Euphrates.

A year after the last American troops left, Iraq's government of Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish parties is deadlocked in a crisis over how to share power. Insurgent bombers are still seeking to enflame sectarian tensions.

Violence and Sunni unrest are worsening concern that the conflict in neighbouring Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting Shiite Iran's ally President Bashar al-Assad, will upset Iraq's own delicate sectarian and ethnic balance.

A suicide bomber killed an influential Sunni lawmaker on Tuesday, and another suicide bomber hit the disputed city of Kirkuk a day later, killing more than 20 people.

Sunni turmoil erupted in late December after state officials arrested members of a Sunni finance minister's security team on terrorism charges. Authorities denied the arrests were political, but Sunni leaders saw them as a crackdown.

Maliki has appointed Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani, an influential Shiite figure, to address protester demands, and the government has released more than 400 detainees in an effort to appease rallies.

"There is no time left for talks. The government has to stand up to its responsibility and take a crucial decision to meet demands," said Sunni lawmaker Wihda al-Jumaili.

Protesters want anti-terrorism laws modified, prisoners released, an amnesty law passed and an easing of a campaign against former members of Saddam's outlawed Baathist party, a measure Sunnis believe has been used to target their leaders.

They are also demanding better government services, a complaint they share with other Iraqis frustrated by the lack of economic progress despite windfall state revenues from growing oil production.

Sunni protesters are also split among moderates more keen to work to improve power-sharing agreements and hardline Islamist voices who are calling for Maliki's ouster and even the formation of a separate Sunni region inside Iraq.

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Iraq
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Tuesday April 15, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Silencing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s hate talk
Michael Young
Michael Young
The presidential chess game has begun
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
China moves to the scary side of its boom
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS