Iraqis have staged pro-government demonstrations in several cities to express support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki’s supporters took to the streets in the holy city of Najaf and the southern city of Basra on Friday to call for authorities to resist demands to change anti-terror laws. They also slammed calls for abolishing a law that forbids former Ba'ath party members from taking office.
Meanwhile, anti-government protesters rallied in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, demanding the repeal of anti-terror laws and release of prisoners.Protesters also continued to block off a highway linking Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 20th successive day in the western province of Anbar. Maliki has already promised to consider some of the protesters’ demands. But he has warned of police intervention if protesters abuse their freedom, cause chaos, and compromise national security. Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, 2012, when bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi were arrested on terrorism-related charges. The demonstrators allege that the arrests were made on sectarian grounds and demand an end to anti-terrorism laws. But the government says it is up to the parliament to decide on abolishing those laws. The Iraqi government says there are foreign agendas behind the protests. HM/HMV/SS