Thousands protest against poverty, lack of services in Iraq
Tens of thousands of loyalists to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated in Basra, in southern Iraq, on Monday to protest poor conditions and lack of services from the government, dpa reported.
Demonstrators waved Iraqi flags, held pictures of the anti-US Shiite leader and chanted "No to Poverty, No to corruption," according to images on Al Iraqiya and Al Arabiya broadcasters.
The protest, which was dubbed the "Day to Support Oppressed Iraqis," sprouted slogans against the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for failing to improve the lives of the poor in Iraq.
Some of the protesters carried empty coffins with textswords to protest the poor services they are getting from the government.
Iraq has been suffering from sporadic power cuts, widespread corruption and a high rate of unemployment.
The protest coincided with the anniversary of the start of the Us invasion to Iraq in 2003, which ousted the Saddam Hussein, and came just a few days before an Arab league Summit was due to convene in Baghdad.
The summit is scheduled to take place on March 27-29 and is the first in Iraq in more than 20 years.