When Mideast politicians get angry, here's how things get bad

Six parliamentary throw-downs in the Middle East that we will never forget

Leila Alwan
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It has been an eventful week that has seen politicians both in Iraq and the UK behave in an un-parliamentarian fashion – with the former staging a sit-in protest and even seeing a brawl break out.

Iraqi lawmakers resorted to throwing water bottles and punching each other a day after a vote on a new cabinet was postponed.

The parliament had been forced to hold an emergency session on Wednesday at the request of several dozen members of parliament. They had held a sit-in protest overnight in the government building, demanding Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announce a cabinet of independent technocrats to end the corruption in the country.

Shiite lawmaker Kadhim al-Saydi, one of the protesters, said al-Abadi should "resign immediately."

The fight was ignited between the protesting lawmakers and others who tried to continue the previous day's session.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron has fallen under the spotlight in the past two weeks following the recent revelations that he had benefited from offshore funds.

In a fiery session in the British parliament - albeit subdued when compared to their Iraqi counterparts - Labour opposition MP Dennis Skinner shamelessly broke procedural rules when he slammed Cameron, calling him “dodgy Dave” as he asked him about his financial affairs that were revealed in the Panama Papers leak.

Now the incident has gone viral in an online video that shows Commons Speaker John Bercow, calling on Skinner to retract the comment.

The veteran MP not only refused, but repeated the insult, demanding that calling the PM ‘dodgy Dave’ was accurate and reasonable.

Bercow again asked him to withdraw the comment but Skinner clearly felt he had already justified his comment, sat down, and angrily shouted back: “Do what you like.”

Skinner was then told by the Speaker of the House that he would have to leave the chamber for the remainder of the day’s session – which he duly did, the camera shot showed him walking out as Bercow told the PM he would not be expected to respond.

Some might think Skinner’s exchange is nothing compared to Wednesday’s scrap in Iraq and some of the outbursts, confrontations, and bare-knuckled fist fights that have been seen in the Middle East political world.

But by British standards, it was deemed bad enough for the veteran politician to be thrown out for the rest of the day’s session.
But let’s take a look at the real brawls.

Six throw downs in the Middle East that we will never forget:

On Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, what was supposed to be the parliament’s vote on increasing prices for petrol, diesel, gas, and electricity, turned ugly with the chamber resembling a battle ground when a brawl broke out between pro-government and opposition members as they were just about to vote.
Lawmakers opposed to the tax hikes, including socialists, environmentalists and Islamists, protested and jeered for at least three hours, at times occupying the speaker’s chair holding up banners that read “social and democratic Algeria” and “no to austerity.”

In 2014, who can forget the incident where Jordan MP, Hind al- Fayez, cut off independent MP Yehia al-Saud during a heated argument in parliament over the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Sit down Hind,” Saud shouted several times.

After Fayez ignored him, Saud yelled: “May God have his revenge on whoever brought quota to this parliament.” - referring to female parliamentary quotas.

The hashtag “Sit down Hind” became very popular in the Arab world.

A brawl nearly erupted in 2016 after water bottles were thrown, and obscene insults hurled, during a meeting of the Lebanese parliament’s public works, transport, energy and water committee.

Lawmakers Ziad Aswad of the Change and Reform group, Jamal Jarrah, from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future political group, came close to a physical encounter before being held back during a heated debate on the country’s electricity crisis and corruption's accusations.

In the first parliamentary session of January ‘10, members of parliament unveiled apparently wild behavior which was aired on live television.

One member was heard insulting parliamentary regulations, while MP Murtada Mansour deviated - reciting the constitutional oath.

Mansour refused to recognize the 2011 revolution, which resulted in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, and accused his fellow MPs of being spies for the Egyptian intelligence agencies.

As members of parliament discussed the budget for 2015, opposition MPs attacked government officials and accused certain members of corruption.

A female politician was prevented from speaking by a male member of parliament, who would interrupt each time she spoke. His actions resulted in an angry exchange of rude insults.

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