The skeleton of a high-rise building overlooking Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square known as the Turkish Restaurant has become a temporary home and a bustling center for protesters staging demonstrations against Iraq’s ruling elites.
On the ground floor, a group of young men calling themselves the logistical support committee organized stacks of donated clothes, food, and other supplies such as battery packs, blankets and cigarettes on Saturday to keep the once-empty building’s new occupants well-stocked.
“We didn’t know each other but here, we became one,” said Abu Al-Baqir, wielding a large wooden stick. “We are all Iraqis.”
Dressed in combat trousers and wearing an Iraqi flag as a cape, the 35-year-old is the leader of the group, made up of 20-odd young men who occupy a corner of the building’s base.
“We need razors up here!,” shouted a young man wearing a gorilla mask from the third floor, lowering a basket. “And don’t forget the bread, we’re starving!
Groups of young men have occupied all 18 floors of the building, with its cramped unlit narrow staircases. Inside, they dance, smoke shisha, play backgammon and chant for the downfall of the ruling elites.
The mass squat started after a second wave of mass demonstrations against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government began on the night of October 24.
The demonstrators want to end the post-2003 political order, which they see as endemically corrupt and which has failed to deliver basic services. Abdul Mahdi has promised reforms and a broad cabinet reshuffle but that has so far failed to appease them.
Once a commercial center, the building was bombed in two wars and subsequently abandoned. It has been dubbed the Turkish Restaurant because of the restaurant that occupied its top floor in the 1980s.
Some protesters now call it Mount Uhud, in reference to a mountain in Medina where early Muslims battled those who sought to destroy the nascent religion. That battle ended in defeat.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر