Iraq’s Sadr warns of ‘million-man’ demo after Ramadan

Senior Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for a halt to anti-government protests during Ramadan but warned that a “million-man” demonstration would be held after the Muslim holy month ends.

“I found it would be beneficial to take a break and postpone all of this until the end of the month,” Sadr said in a statement on Saturday.

The prominent Shia cleric called on his followers to be prepared for “a peaceful, popular million-man protest” after Ramadan ends in July, warning that he would not rein in his forces if protesters were confronted.

Protesters, including Sadr’s followers, have been holding demonstrations to demand reform and an end to corruption, bringing the capital, Baghdad, to a standstill every Friday amid the heavy presence of security forces.

Demonstrators, mostly Sadr’s supporters, have entered into Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies, twice over the past two months, storming parliament and the prime minister’s office.

Iraqi anti-corruption protesters wave the national flag and shout slogans during a demonstration at Tahrir square in Baghdad on May 27, 2016. © AFP

The second breach on May 20 prompted the government to declare a curfew in the capital, only to be lifted hours later by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Two protesters were killed and 60 others sustained injuries in the second breach of the Green Zone as Iraqi forces used tear gas, water cannons and sound bombs against protesters.

The Iraqi premier has said the continued demonstrations in Baghdad and elsewhere would exert pressure on the Iraqi forces battling Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

Iraq has endured months-long political crisis as Abadi attempts to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats as part of an anti-corruption drive.

The Iraqi parliament has failed to approve the prime minister’s proposal amid scuffles and protests.

By Press TV