[QODLink]
Middle East

Sunni protests continue in Iraqi cities

Demonstrations triggered by arrest of bodyguards for finance minister intensify amid calls for release of prisoners.
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2012 22:31
The protesters have complained about marginalisation and are demanding the release of Sunni prisoners [Al Jazeera]

Sunni Muslims in Iraq are continuing their demonstrations against the Shia-led government, accusing the prime minister of marginalising non-Shia.

Thousands gathered on Sunday in Ramadi, 100km west of Baghdad, in Anbar Province, which has seen several days of protests.

The protests began last week with many demonstrators massing along a major highway near the city of Fallujah in the country's centre. 

Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh, reporting from Ramadi, said the protests had been triggered by the arrest 10 days ago of nine bodyguards for the finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi, in Baghdad. 

"They're not only protesting against the arrest of the bodyguards. They're also now protesting against the imprisonment of Sunnis," our correspondent said. "They say the Sunnis have been targeted by the Shia-led government."

"So they're demanding the release of female prisoners. They're demanding the release of male prisoners. And also they want an end to what they say is marginalisation and discrimination against Sunnis." 

Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister, has denied all the allegations of injustice.

The rallies appear to be the largest yet in a week of demonstrations, intensifying pressure on the government.

During Friday's protests in the northern city of Mosul, around 3,000 demonstrators took to the streets to denounce what they called the sidelining of Sunnis.

As in protests earlier in the week, demonstrators there chanted the Arab Spring slogan: "The people want the downfall of the regime."

Thousands also took to the streets in the northern Sunni towns of Tikrit and Samarra, where they were joined by legislators and provincial officials, said Salahuddin provincial spokesman Mohammed al-Asi.

Many Sunnis accuse Maliki of refusing to share power and depriving the religious minority of equal rights.

306

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.