Iraq’s top Shia cleric urges protesters, security forces not to use violence

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Iraq’s top Shia cleric on Friday urged security forces and protesters not to use violence and criticized Iraqi leaders for failing to eradicate corruption, blaming lawmakers in particular.

“It is sorrowful that there have been so many deaths, casualties, and destruction” from days of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a letter read out by his representative Ahmed al-Safi during a sermon in the holy city of Kerbala.

“The government and political sides have not answered the demands of the people to fight corruption or achieved anything on the ground,” he said. “Lawmakers hold the biggest responsibility for what is happening.”

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