Iraqi protesters burn Bush effigy in anti-US rally
Supporters of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated Friday against an accord that would extend the U.S. military presence in Iraq, shouting “America out!” and burning an effigy of President Bush.
People began arriving at central Baghdad’s Firdos Square just after sunrise, some having walked for hours across the capital.
Removing the hood to beat the effigy with a shoe, a particularly deep Iraqi insult, they put a whip in its right hand and in its left a briefcase on which was written, “The security agreement is shame and dishonor.”
The effigy fell into the crowd and protesters jumped on it before setting it ablaze as the crowd erupted with chants of “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great.” Several U.S. flags were also burned.
Friday’s protest was the latest display of opposition to an accord that could push Iraq into new political commotion even though the ruling coalition appears to have enough parliamentary votes to back up the deal.
The Sadrists do not appear to have the power to disrupt the bilateral accord, which would let American troops to stay in Iraq for three more years.The group has only 30 seats in the 275-seat parliament.
Violence in Iraq has fallen to levels unseen since the early days after the invasion. But militants are still able to carry out bomb attacks. A roadside bomb at a checkpoint in Baghdad’s southerly Doura neighborhood killed three people and wounded 15 early on Friday.
Photos: AP and NY Times