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Iraqi Shiite cleric lends support to Sunni protest - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BAGHDAD (AP) — Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is voicing support for Iraqi Sunni protesters who have been rallying against the country’s Shiite-dominated central government.

The hardline cleric said Tuesday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf that the demonstrators have the right to demonstrate as long as they are peaceful.

Protesters have been holding rallies in the western desert province of Anbar and other Sunni strongholds for more than a week. The demonstrations follow the arrest of bodyguards assigned to the Sunni finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi, though they tap into deeper Sunni grievances of perceived discrimination by the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Al-Sadr grudgingly backed longtime rival al-Maliki following elections in 2010, then last year joined Iraq’s minority Sunni Arabs and Kurds in calling for al-Maliki to resign.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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