Four killed in Baghdad as Iraq protests see no letup

Iraqi demonstrators gathered at a Al- Tahrir square watch the World Cup 2022 Qualifier match Iraq v Iran, in Baghdad, Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2019

Four killed in Baghdad as Iraq protests see no letup

  • ‘We’re not leaving, even if this lasts 40 years’

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces killed at least four anti-government protesters on Thursday as they sought to push them back to their main camp in central Baghdad, police and medics said, but demonstrations resumed at the same spot later in the day.

The violence shattered two days of relative calm in Baghdad after weeks of bloody unrest that has killed more than 300 Iraqis as politicians grapple with the biggest challenge in years to their grip on power.

The mass protests, which began in Baghdad on Oct. 1 and spread through southern Iraq, are an eruption of public anger against a ruling elite seen as enriching itself off the state and serving foreign powers, especially Iran, as many Iraqis languish in poverty without jobs, health care or education.

Police and medical sources said the clashes killed four, three of whom were struck in the head by tear gas canisters. The fourth died from wounds sustained from a stun grenade explosion. Another 65 were wounded, many from live ammunition.

Protesters held their ground and gathered in the same area later on Thursday as security forces lobbed tear gas over a concrete wall erected to barricade off the demonstrations.

Dozens choked on the gas and were evacuated by ambulances and tuk tuks, or treated at makeshift medical centres in Tahrir Square.

On another main street protesters used old cabinets, empty petrol drums and steel sheeting to set up their own barricade near Jumhuriya (Republic) Bridge.

“We’re reinforcing in case the security forces make another push later,” said Abbas, a teenager helping to erect the makeshift barrier.

Security forces have tried to tighten the noose around Tahrir Square demonstrations. They took control of many of the surrounding streets earlier in the week.

Security officials have said forces are planning to seal off the square and carry out an arrest campaign to kill the protests’ momentum.

Thursday morning’s clashes appeared to have emboldened some, however. “We’re not going anywhere,” said Hayder Ghareeb, a medical volunteer. “What will they do, kill everyone in the square?”

At Tahrir Square late on Thursday, elated protesters watched their soccer team beat Iran 2-1 in a live match on a giant screen, apparently inspired by the performance. “Iran, Iran, we step on you!” they chanted, setting off fireworks to celebrate.

“We young people are tired and things aren’t great: We have no jobs, we have no salaries,” said Hussein, a young protester who wore a spent tear-gas canister around his neck. “We’re not leaving — even if this lasts 40 years.”


Egypt arrests alleged serial sexual predator

Updated 04 July 2020

Egypt arrests alleged serial sexual predator

  • Allegations have been widely circulating on social media detailing horrific sexual abuse and related blackmail suffered by women at the hands of the same man
  • Trending hashtags carrying the alleged abuser’s name widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook, urging government action

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities on Saturday arrested a man who allegedly sexually abused dozens of girls and women, in a case that has sparked outrage online, a security source said.
Allegations have been widely circulating on social media since Wednesday detailing horrific sexual abuse and related blackmail suffered by women at the hands of the same man.
One allegation claimed that he attempted to abuse a 14-year-old girl.
“The person accused of harassing the girls has been arrested and will be facing the prosecution following the allegations carried on social media,” the security source said.
“Those affected should submit formal reports of the harm they endured,” the source added.
The source did not identify the suspect.
According to the social media reports, the first of which was published on an Instagram account, the abuse had been going on since at least 2018.
Trending hashtags carrying the alleged abuser’s name widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook, urging government action.
Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) lodged an official complaint with the public prosecutor to investigate the allegations on Saturday.
“The NCW has followed the social media account on Instagram, which was launched by girls and women complaining that a man raped some of them and sexually assaulted and harassed others,” it said on Facebook.
It also said that several victims, who reached out to the council, recounted that the man “blackmailed and threatened to defame them using photos and clips documenting his heinous crimes.”
The council urged the women to submit official complaints to the prosecutor.
Some online reports suggested the perpetrator was a university student.
The American University in Cairo acknowledged the suspect had studied there but said he left the university in 2018.
He “is not a current student at the American University in Cairo,” a statement said.
Sexual harassment is highly prevalent in Egypt.
United Nations surveys have found that most Egyptian women have been subject to harassment, ranging from catcalling to pinching and groping.
Egyptian authorities have criminalized sexual harassment since 2014, but many women complain that the problem remains rampant.