12/29/2012, 00.00
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Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Sunnis on the streets against the Shiite government

For the past week the main roads of the country have been blocked. In Ramadi, more than 100 thousand people have built barricades on the road leading to the Syrian border. Protests also in Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Samarra. The Sunnis demand an end to anti-terrorism laws and accuse the Shiites of keeping them on the margins of society.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of thousands of Sunni Muslims are protesting against the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the anti-terrorism laws and the police. In Fallujah (50 km west of Baghdad), about 60 thousand people blocked the main road leading to Baghdad. Protesters burnt flags and effigies of Shiite Islam, shouted slogans against the government accused of being manipulated by Iran. The Sunnis have expressed their support for the Syrian rebels who for the past 20 months have been fighting President Bashar Al - Assad  who belongs to the minority of Alawites close to Shiite Islam.

According to local media people want to emulate the "Arab Spring" which in 2011 led to the fall of governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen. The climax of the protests was reached yesterday in Ramadi, with more than 100 thousand people along the road that leads to the border with Syria and Jordan. Other protests have taken place after Friday prayers in Mosul, Kurdistan, Samarra and Tikrit. Riots were sparked by the arrest in Anbar province (western Iraq) of 10 bodyguards of Rafia al-Issawi, Minister of Finance, one of the main leaders of the Sunni faction of the government.

The Sunnis were the dominant faction in Iraq for decades during Saddam Hussein's regime, guilty of the genocide of the Shia minority. With the fall of the dictator in 2003, the international forces opted for a rise to power of the Shiite faction that gave way to a gradual marginalization of its opponents. The contrast between the two groups, however, has also led to a real conflict involving al-Qaeda terrorists and various extremist movements from neighbouring Iran, regarded as the main supporter of the government of al-Maliki.

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See also
Ahmadinejad set to visit Baghdad in March
Shadow of Tehran and Washington hangs over Iraqi elections
Baghdad, Judiciary Committee could reverse outcome of elections
The Shiite al-Maliki is ahead, but the secular Allawi is also going strong
Maliki in Syria, in search of security and legitimacy


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