Sunday, April 10, 2005

Firdus Square and the numbers game.

Al-Jazeera reports:

"Many supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rallied in Baghdad late Friday, demanding the withdrawal of the U.S. occupation forces on the second anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein"

The demonstrators, carrying anti-U.S. banners, gathered at Baghdad‚ Firdus Square, where a statue of the toppled Iraqi leader was pulled down on April 9, 2003, marking the beginning of the U.S.-led occupation of the country. [A staged media event by the pentagon and Ahmad Chalabi's rent- an- army.]

Sunni leaders also demanded the Iraqis to take part in Saturday's protests.
After Friday noon prayers in Baghdad, Sheik Harith al-Dahri, the leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars, accused occupation forces of "killing the Iraqi people daily."

"I ask all Iraqis to join in peaceful demonstrations tomorrow against the occupation," said Sheikh al-Dhari. "The people must speak with one voice and say: 'No to the occupation; the occupiers must leave. Two years have passed and all we see is bloodshed, destruction and looting,‚ he added. "

One thing everyone in Iraq can agree on; we have to go. I think that's what the elections were all about as well.

Will the president now be beating his chest about freedom being on the march in Iraq? He's all about the Syrians ending their occupation of Lebanon; the shoe is on the other foot now it would appear. Not that the media here is going to see any irony in this whole situation.

The protest in Baghdad did look alot like the rallies in Beriut last month. And the demonstrations in Cairo. The Cairo protests were especially similar because they not only called for Mubarak to go, but for the U.S. to leave Iraq.

Where has Muqtada al-Sadr been these days anyway? The Post writes today:

"Unlike Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who has the broadest support among the country's Shiite majority, Sadr has pronounced a stridently anti-occupation line and reached out to Sunni Muslims who oppose the American presence. "

Funny wording there. It makes it sound like Sistani doesn't oppose the occupation, which he does.

The Post wants everybody to know:

"Sadr's followers had predicted a million people would turn out, but the actual number, while substantial, fell short." [1,500 Sunnis in Ramadi coming out wasn't peanuts, either.]

[But then again, I was at an anti-war protest in D.C. in January of 2004 and the Post said only about 10,000 showed up. Even the D.C. police said later there were over a hundred thousand. (It could have been a lot more.) Don't confuse the Post with the facts, though. The DCPD have a standing policy that they never estimate crowd numbers, except for this one time, because it was so overwhelming. Shhhh...the Post!]


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