Iraqis plan 'day of rage' on Friday

Iraqi youth organise their own "day of rage" on Friday against poor basic services in Iraq.

Iraqis plan 'day of rage' on Friday

A wave of uprisings across the Arab world have inspired Iraqi youth to plug into social media and organise their own "day of rage" on Friday against poor basic services in Iraq.

Thousands of Iraqis are expected to take part in the demonstration, organised mainly through social networking site Facebook, after weeks of scattered protests around the country calling for an end to shortages of jobs, food, power and water.

"Feb. 25 is the Iraqi day of rage for change, an end to corruption and sectarianism in Iraq," said one post on the wall of Facebook group 'Baghdad Facebook', which had over 3,000 supporters.

A member of another Facebook group with more than 3,000 supporters called 'A street without a hole in Baghdad' called on people to take part in peaceful protests to improve services.

It is impossible to verify how many members of such groups live in Iraq.

Iraqis have long complained about a lack of basic services but, unlike other states in the region, have not called in recent rallies for a change of government in a country still trying to get back on its feet eight years after the U.S.-led invasion.

Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk, Sulaimaniya and other cities and towns have been hit by protests, some leading to clashes between protesters and security forces. Several people have been killed and scores wounded.

Popular uprisings mobilised by youths using social media, which unseated Tunisia and Egypt's long-ruling leaders, have motivated young Iraqis.

"Let the voice of freedom be heard in all of Baghdad's streets and let's take a lesson from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Long live Iraq," wrote one supporter of Facebook group 'February revolution against corruption'.

Other groups encouraged Iraqis living abroad to support the demonstration by protesting outside Iraqi embassies, while Iraqi website www.kitabat.com has dedicated its home page to news and information on the planned Friday protest.

"Warnings"

But, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged Iraqis not to take part in planned protests on Friday.

Maliki called Friday's protests "suspicious" and said he had evidence that insurgents and Baathists plan to take advantage of the demonstrations for their own purposes.

"You can walk in protests at any place and any time you want, but not at the place and time of a protest being supported by Saddamists, terrorists and al Qaeda," Maliki said in a nationally televised speech.

"I am warning you about their plans, which are to change the course of (peaceful) rallies and protests, to ... murder, riot, sabotage, hard-to-control strife, bombings ..."

As demonstrations mounted in Iraq in recent weeks, Maliki has moved to soothe anger by cutting his pay, reducing electricity bills, buying more sugar for the national food ration programme and diverting money from fighter jets to food.

Agencies

Last Mod: 24 Şubat 2011, 17:44
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