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Sunday, March 6, 2011
Protesters converge on Iraq capital
Thousands of people have converged on Baghdad's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square to protest against corruption and unemployment, despite a vehicle ban that forced many to walk for hours to the heart of the Iraqi capital.
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad that the situation was heading towards a stand-off, as security forces demanded the protesters leave, blocking their route across a bridge leading to the Green Zone, where the government has its base.
Concrete blocks were set up by authorities on all of Baghdad's bridges ahead of the protests.
“What we're seeing here is a bit of a test, of how the government will respond when these people clearly want their demands to be heard,” Arraf said.
The protests in Iraq are growing in size, partly because of the instability of the coalition government formed by Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, Arraf said.
Iraqis are increasingly unwilling to accept the nature of the democracy that has emerged in years after Saddam's regime was overthrown.
“This is a new democracy, it's an unusual democracy, and it's not exactly what people bargained for,” she said.
“On top of that, people are looking around protests in Egypt and Tunisia … It has shown them, particularly these young people that if they come out and demand their rights, perhaps something will happen.”
(Source: Al Jazeera)