Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday demo gives clerics chance to call for “justice” after “calm”

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Erbil, Feb. 19 (AKnews) – Preachers in their Friday sermons urged the government to enforce justice and equality following demonstrations in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan's second largest city, which left one killed and dozens injured.
On Thursday, dozens of people took to the streets to show solidarity with the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples but the peaceful demo turned into a violent clash with the security personnel of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headquarter in the city when the protesters showered it with stones.
There were also reports that some of the protesters were armed and fired at the headquarters. Two of the building's guards were reportedly injured by the gunfire.
The protesters accused the government and the two ruling parties of corruption. Immediately after the clashes, the ruling parties said there was a hand behind what they termed "riots" in Sulaimaniyah, implicating the opposition group - Gorran.
Following the Sulaimaniyah clashes, the headquarters of Gorran in Erbil and the Soran district were set on fire by supporters of the KDP.
Gorran issued a statement on January 29 which called for the reformation of the government prompting security forces go on alert for any attack on government buildings. Observers say the statement has had great impact on destabilizing the region.
The preachers stressed in their Friday sermons that the people of Kurdistan have been able only after long years of suffering atrocities to establish the current government and assure security in the region, and therefore, all such acts that would annul the achievements and destabilizes the region should be avoided.
Mullah Mazhar, Imam of Qadir Bla mosque in Erbil, likened the situation, which he believed would destabilize the region, to a folk story where a man standing on the branch of a tree cuts the branch, falls and breaks his own back.
The preacher called on the people of Kurdistan to maintain order.
Mullah Idris, the Imam of the Rahma Mosque in Erbil, said the Kurdish region had many enemies and "we should not do what would impose a threat on the achievements."
But he also stressed that calm should be accompanied by "justice". "The Kurdistan Regional Government should take serious steps to fight oppression, enforce justice and provide services to the public."
On Friday the deputy leader of the KDP Nechirvan Barzani appeared in a press conference trying to calm down the situation saying they will not accuse any political actor of attacking the KDP headquarters.
He also voiced resentment for the attacks on the headquarters of Gorran and called them "evil" acts that would mar the reputation of the region. Mr Barzani also criticized the police and security forces of Sulaimaniyah for not upholding their duties.

Reported by Saiwan Ali


Saturday, February 19th 2011 1:06 PM