Iraq’s Sistani says security forces responsible for keeping protests peaceful
Iraq’s top Shia cleric said on Friday that it was up to the security forces to make sure protests do not descend into further violence, and urged the government to respond to demonstrators’ demands as soon as possible.
“The biggest responsibility is on the security forces,” a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a sermon after Friday prayer in the Shia Muslim holy city of Kerbala.
Sistani also warned against exploitation of unrest in Iraq by “internal and external” forces which seek to cause instability in the country.
Protests over lack of jobs and services broke out in Baghdad on Oct. 1 and quickly spread to southern provinces. Security forces began using live gunfire to disperse demonstrations almost immediately and have killed more than 260 people, according to police and medics.
The protesters, mostly unemployed youths, now demand an overhaul of the political system and ruling class which has dominated state institutions since the US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.