Iraqi women lead Baghdad protests following cleric’s calls for segregation

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Iraqi women were at the forefront of protests in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Thursday, after a prominent political leader called for segregation during demonstrations earlier this week.

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Sunday said that men and women should not mix in sit-in tents during demonstrations in a list of restrictions and rules posted on his Twitter page.

Hundreds of people gathered in the capital to denounce al-Sadr’s statement, and call for women’s rights and political reforms, videos shared on social media showed.

“With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you Iraq,” the women chanted.

Iraqi women, using the Twitter hashtag “We are the daughters of Iraq” in Arabic, also shared pictures and videos of themselves carrying posters on the platform.

Several videos showed men linking arms together around the women in order to protect them from other protestors.

Iraqis had launched a social media campaign ridiculing the cleric on Sunday, where they mocked al-Sadr by wearing hijabs and drawing on mustaches after his statement was posted on Twitter.

Since the anti-government demonstrations erupted in Baghdad and southern cities in October 2019, more than 500 Iraqis have been killed.