Police turn violent after Iraq's Sunnis take to the streets once again
Iraqi demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-government protest in the western city of Ramadi on Friday. (AFP PHOTO/AZHAR SHALLAL)
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Sunni protestors in Iraq once more took to the streets of Ramadi, Samara and the capital following Friday prayers in a spate of anti-sectarian demonstrations, Al Jazeera reported.
Police responded to the peaceful rallies with water cannons and by beating protestors with batons, according to the news agency. In Baghdad, worshippers trying to reach the Sunni mosque were stopped in their tracks.
"We were showered with water and the policemen started to beat us,'' Abdul-Rahman al-Azzawi told Al Jazeera, adding, "I do not know the reason behind this savage attack. We were only going to a mosque, not to al-Maliki's office in the Green Zone.''
The demonstrations follow the arrest in late December of bodyguards assigned to the Sunni finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi, though they tap into deeper Sunni grievances of perceived discrimination by the government of Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Sunni Iraqis have largely been blamed for the series of bombings across the country in recent months that have killed hundreds and caused mass devastation to buildings nearby.
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