Iraqi security forces ride with a picture of Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the central holy shrine city of Najaf on November 8 , 2019. (Haidar Hamdani / AFP via Getty Images)

Senior Shi’ite Cleric Condemns Iraq’s Killing of 400 Protesters

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s senior Shi’ite cleric, on Friday condemned the country’s security forces for their attacks on mostly unarmed young protesters, killing more than 400 since the unrest began on October 1. Sistani said that legislators should reconsider their support for the government, whose attacks on peaceful protesters were, he said, “forbidden.” He also urged the protesters, themselves, to use only nonviolence in their demonstrations, saying they “must not allow peaceful demonstrations to be turned into attacks on property or people.” Following the protesters’ torching of the Iranian Consulate in Najaf on Wednesday, Iraqi security forces shot dead at least 62 people on Thursday. Protesters are demonstrating against government corruption and incompetence, poor economic conditions, and excessive Iranian influence on the country’s ruling elite.

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