"Worse than the Zionists"....

Protests are raging throughout Iraq...thousands upon thousands are demanding the following :

- End of Sectarian Shia rule
- the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
- the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
- the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
- the provision of government services to all
- the end of corruption
- no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

The protests in Anbar, Fallujah, Sammara, Baquba,  Tikrit, Kirkuk, Mosul...and in different parts of Baghdad stress over and over 1) the spontaneous nature of the "popular revolution against oppression and injustice" 2) its peaceful nature  i.e unarmed  3) the welcoming of ALL to join the protests regardless of sect or ethnicity as ONE Iraqi people and 4) and the March to Baghdad.

Today, Friday the provinces were sealed...meaning that no one could enter or leave and very strict security measures were implemented to prevent anyone from outside Baghdad to reach the capital.

Sammara, Anbar, Mosul, Baquba, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Fallujah are under siege This is one policy by the sectarian Shia government to ensure that the protests do NOT reach Baghdad.

And within that general siege of the provinces and the capital,  there is the siege of the Sunni neighborhoods (Aadhamiya, Ameriya, Saydiyya)  in Baghdad to prevent the March to Baghdad as mentioned above. The worst hit neighborhood by excessive security measures, checkpoints, barbed wires, cement blocks, searches, arrests is Aadhamiya which has been encircled for over a week already.

No one can enter or leave Aadhamiya, security forces both in military and civilian clothes search, interrogate, arrest and detain.

Aadhamiya has been a ghetto since the occupation with cement blocks, and checkpoints also Aadhamiya is where Imam Abu Hanifa mosque lies, the shrine of the Imam of the Hanafis - Abu Hanifa.

Today no one was allowed to come near the vicinity of the Abu Hanifa mosque, not even from within the neighborhood itself. Contrary to custom, Abu Hanifa mosque, today Friday, was nearly empty.

Women were thoroughly searched and prevented from coming near. Men were asked to stay out within a radius of the mosque, those below age of 45 were denied entry to the Friday prayer.

One woman said "we have been living like this for years, so what if I want to go to Aadhamiya and pray there, I am an Iraqi, I have the right to go to Nejaf, to Anbar, to Baghdad...this is ALSO my country" 

One man over 40, from the neighborhood who forgot his ID at home, was forcibly prevented from attending prayer. This is his testimony.

" I am from the neighborhood, you can ask anyone we all know each other here (true everyone knows everyone in Aadhamiya this is what happens in ghettos) let me through and pray. Even the Zionist jews allow Palestinians over 40 years of age pray in Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and you won't allow me to pray in my own neighborhood. To which the security forces replied "when it comes to you (your sect) we are worse than the Zionists... "

The witness added "finally they have admitted...we used to lament the American occupation, we are now under a worse occupation."

In Nejaf, on the other hand, Muqtada al Sadr and his followers staged a protest in solidarity with the opposition in BAHRAIN while thousands of Iraqis have being demonstrating in sit ins for over 50 days already and under siege in their own country.

And in a press meeting, the US military command expressed their "concern and worry about the current instability the protests in Iraq are causing... " 

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