Iraqi Campaign Against Slum Areas Drives Protests In Karbala
Hundreds of Iraqis protested Thursday in Karbala against a campaign launched by authorities few weeks ago in several provinces, against slum areas built illegally on state lands.
The province of Karbala had witnessed on Wednesday an unprecedented campaign against those random houses, while the Baghdad municipality is seen removing, daily, several abuses in the capital’s neighborhoods.
However, the campaign received conflicting reactions across the country: One group supports the authorities’ move to only punish big dwellers, however, calling on the government to provide abusers with alternative housing, while another group calls for the removal of those exploitations, a move necessary for the implementation of law.
On Thursday, Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr commented on the campaign, and called on the authorities to open party headquarters for the poor whose houses were demolished.
In a tweet posted on his account, Sadr wrote, “It’s an ugly thing to stand against the poor, demolish his house while he has no other place to go, no work or salary to rent another house.”
Meanwhile, the Karbala governorate decided to stop on Thursday its campaign against poor houses exclusively, however, it asserted continuing to remove abuses in the streets and to demolish illegal houses whose owners possess another land or are paid high salaries.
On Wednesday, security forces, stationed at the door of the Karbala governorate building, tried to disperse demonstrators organized by the owners of random houses that were demolished by the municipality.
The protesters were trying to break into the council building and crossed the concrete and human checkpoints in front of the building's door, according to a reporter of the NINA news agency.
Last March, the Iraqi Planning Ministry said there were 3,700 random housings across the country, with Baghdad alone holding 1002 of such habitats.