Iraq's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani voiced support for the demands of the Iraqi demonstrators and called on the government to act now "before it's too late."
"There are attacks on peaceful protesters and security forces which we reject and condemn," Sistani said in a letter read out by his representative Ahmed al-Safi on Friday.
He also stressed that the government should change its approach in dealing with the challenges facing the country.
The government "must do what it can to improve public services, find work for the unemployed, end clientelism, deal with the corruption issue and send those implicated in it to prison," he added.
Clashes increased between protesters and security forces across Iraq despite calls by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's for patience and with the death toll reaching 34 on Friday.