Moqtada al-Sadr calls for massive demonstration against American occupation
Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Thursday for a million-strong demonstration against the American occupation. The demonstration would take place next Wednesday April 9, the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, Reuters reported.
"The time has come to express your rejections and raise your voices loud against the unjust occupier and enemy of nations and humanity, and against the horrible massacres committed by the occupier against our honourable people," said a statement released by Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf.
The statement called on Iraqis of all sects to descend on Najaf.
On its part, the government said it would not attempt to block the demonstration, provided it was not violent. "The right to hold a peaceful demonstration and express opinions is guaranteed by the constitution, and we don't mind as long as the demonstration is peaceful," Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf told Reuters.
The Shiite cleric also called for a "peaceful sit-in" in Baghdad on Friday to protest against bombings, arrests and vehicle bans that continue to seal off parts of the capital. Sadr aide Hazem al-Araji said the cleric had called Friday's sit-in to protest against "the siege of some neighbourhoods, the random arrests of Sadrists and bombing innocent civilians".