Iraqi women protest government in holy city of Najaf, February 19, 2020. - Haidar HAMDANI / AFP
"No to America", "No to Iran", "let us tear them all out by the roots!" … Hundreds of Iraqi women demonstrated in the very conservative Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, on Wednesday to protest the government.
The demonstrators denounced pell-mell corruption, endemic in Iraq, the influence games of the United States and Iran, great allies of Baghdad, and the Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr who recently withdrawn his support for the demonstrators.
"We don't stop because of a decree"
"No voice can cover that of women," immediately proclaims a sign, while a first demonstration solely of women took place a week ago in Baghdad to denounce the remarks of Moqtada Sadr against gender diversity in the parades. . "We started demonstrating to bring down the regime, now we are demonstrating only for women because they have insulted us," said Saba, 22, who walks towards the Provincial Council where the anti-power camp is located.
Nada Qassem, a fifty-year-old university professor, also has grievances against the former militia leader who was the first to support the unprecedented revolt but then sent his men to dismantle the pickets denouncing demonstrators drinking alcohol, taking drugs and promoting debauchery. "We are free, we do not go out on the orders of a religious and we do not stop because of a decree," said the Iraqi woman who herself was injured in clashes with the Sadrists.
"This country is run from abroad"
Around her, deflecting the flagship slogan of the rebellion borrowed from Moqtada Sadr - "let us tear them all out by the root" - the demonstrators chant: "let us tear them all out by the root, even the one who said that ". The nearly 550 dead and 30,000 injured, the campaign of intimidation - assassinations of activists, kidnapping of demonstrators and violence - carried out according to the UN by "militias", all this, she assures, will not stop her .
"I want a civil status and regain my stolen rights," says the Iraqi woman draped in a large black veil. "This country is ruled from abroad," she further denounces, in reference to the Iranian stranglehold on power in Baghdad and to American interventions in Iraq. Tensions between the two enemies even degenerated in early January into deadly attacks which raised fears that Iraq would plunge into a new conflict.
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