Tensions were high in Iraq’s Nasiriyah city between anti-government protesters and supporters of the Sadrist movement, led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
According to activists, tensions broke out between protesters, who have been present at Al Habobi square for months, and Sadrists who arrived at the scene.
Activist Raad Mohsen said quarrels erupted between the two sides after Sadrists raised a poster of the movement’s leader during a demonstration demanding to bring the killers of protesters to justice, starting with Gen. Jamil Al Shammari.
Mohsen, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, confirmed that the protesters are used to holding at least one demonstration a week to reaffirm their demands, which include holding the killers of demonstrators accountable.
The raising of Sadr’s poster at the square prompted tensions, with activists explaining that images of party and religious leaders are prohibited at the square.
Moreover, Mohsen said the protesters chanted slogans that denounced Sadr and other political leaders. This led to the buildup of tensions, but security leaders and prominent protesters intervened to contain the situation.
Tensions between the protesters and Sadrists have been on the rise for months. The latter has been accused of killing and using violence against the protesters, especially in Baghdad, Najaf and Nasiriyah.
The tensions are also playing out on social media.
Demonstrators at Al Habobi square issued a statement demanding the revelation of names of those involved in oppressing the November protests in Nasiriyah.
According to Mohsen, the statement called on the central government to quit its evasiveness and reveal the names of those responsible for killing dozens of protesters.