Police clash with protesters in Iraq

Updated 16 March 2013

Police clash with protesters in Iraq

BAGHDAD: Protesters clashed yesterday with Iraqi police trying to prevent them from reaching the most venerated mosque in Baghdad, as the people again massed for anti-government rallies in several Iraqi cities. Several people were reported injured.
Iraqi security forces had prevented worshippers from holding Friday prayers at the Abu Hanifa mosque last week as well, a development that reflects heightened sectarian tensions nearly a decade after the US invasion of Iraq.
Police officials said anti-riot police used batons and water hoses in order to prevent worshippers from crossing a bridge leading to the mosque, which is located in Azamiyah.
The officials said several worshippers sustained bruises and minor injuries in the skirmishes at the bridge, about 2 km from Abu Hanifa. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
Abdul-Rahman Al-Azzawi was one among the people who tried to cross the 14th of Ramadan bridge when they were met by security forces. "We were showered with water and the policemen started to beat us," he said. "I do not know the reason behind this savage attack. We were only going to a mosque, not to Al-Maliki's office in the Green Zone," referring to the heavily secured quarter in the center of Baghdad where many officials have their offices.
The clashes did not reach the Abu Hanifa mosque itself.
The area around the holy site was calm and hundreds of people, including Sunni Parliament speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi, attended the Friday prayers there.
During the Friday sermon in Abu Hanifa, Imam Haasan Al-Taha criticized the restriction of movement imposed on worshippers.
"Several days ago, the authorities promised us that they would provide the people free access to Abu Hanifa, but once again the government officials failed to live to their promises," Al-Taha said.
In the western province of Anbar, the heart of the protest movement that began in December, masked men arrived at the site of demonstrations in Fallujah raising the flag used by rebels in neighboring Syria.
They also held aloft a homemade black banner flag very similar to that used by Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq, suggesting that supporters of the terror group are trying to make their presence felt in the largely peaceful protests.
The protests were sparked by the arrest of bodyguards assigned to Finance Minister Rafia Al-Issawi in late December.


Egypt holds full-honors military funeral for Hosni Mubarak

Updated 20 min 46 sec ago

Egypt holds full-honors military funeral for Hosni Mubarak

  • The Republican Guard carried Mubarak’s casket wrapped in the Egyptian flag
  • To the outside world, Mubarak the strongman symbolized so much of Egypt’s modern history

CAIRO: Egypt was holding a full-honors military funeral Wednesday for the country’s former autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, who was for decades the face of stability in the Middle East but who was ousted from power in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that swept much of the region.
A few dozen Mubarak supporters, clad in black and carrying posters of the former president, had gathered since morning hours at a mosque complex in an eastern New Cairo neighborhood, where Mubarak’s body was brought for the funeral service.
The Republican Guard carried Mubarak’s casket wrapped in the Egyptian flag.
The 91-year-old Mubarak died on Tuesday at a Cairo military hospital from heart and kidney complications, according to medical documents obtained by The Associated Press. He was admitted to hospital on Jan. 21 with intestinal obstruction and underwent surgery, after which he was treated in intensive care.
To the outside world, Mubarak the strongman symbolized so much of Egypt’s modern history but his rule of nearly 30 years ended after hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, forcing him to step down.
Perhaps ironically, Mubarak’s funeral service was held at the Tantawi Mosque in eastern Cairo, named for now retired Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who headed the military council that ran Egypt following Mubarak’s ouster and until the election of Islamist President Muhammed Morsi in 2012.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi attended the service, which was to be followed later in the day by burial at the cemetery in Heliopolis, an upscale Cairo district that was Mubarak’s home for most of his rule and where he lived until his death.
On Tuesday, El-Sisi extended condolences to the former president’s family, including his widow Suzanne and two sons, wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent Gamal.
In a statement, El-Sisi praised Mubarak’s service during the 1973 war with Israel but made no mention of his rule as president of the most populous Arab state. Three days of national mourning were to begin Wednesday, El-Sisi announced.
Pro-government media paid tribute to Mubarak, focusing on his role in the 1973 war with Israel when Mubarak, a pilot by training, commanded Egypt’s air force.
“Through his military and political career, Mubarak made undeniable achievements and sacrifices,” the state-run Al-Aharm newspaper eulogized Mubarak in its editorial Wednesday.
Born in May 1928, Mubarak was vice president on Oct. 6, 1981, when his mentor, President Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by Islamic extremists while reviewing a military parade. Seated next to Sadat, Mubarak escaped with a minor hand injury as gunmen sprayed the reviewing stand with bullets. Eight days later, the brawny former air force commander was sworn in as president, promising continuity and order.
Mubarak’s rule was marked by a close alliance with the US in the fight against Islamic militancy and assisting regional peace efforts. Many older Egyptians, who had long considered him invincible, were stunned by the images of Mubarak on a gurney bed being taken to court for sessions of his trial in Cairo following his ouster.
Mubarak’s overthrow plunged Egypt into years of chaos and uncertainty, and set up a power struggle between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood group that he had long outlawed. Some two and a half years after Mubarak’s ouster, El-Sisi led the military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mursi, and rolled back freedoms gained in the 2011 uprising.
In June 2012, Mubarak and his security chief were sentenced to life in prison for failing to prevent the killing of some 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising. Both appealed the verdict and a higher court later cleared them in 2014.
The following year, Mubarak and his sons were sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges during a retrial. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while Mubarak walked free in 2017.