Iraq’s Sistani rejects foreign intervention in protests

BAGHDAD

Prominent Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani on Friday decried using violence against peaceful protests and expressed his rejection to foreign interventions in Iraq.

“No person, group or party with certain ideology, regional or international side has the right to confiscate the will of Iraqi people or impose an opinion on them,” al-Sistani stressed in a Friday sermon read by his representative Ahmed Al-Safi in Karbala.

He called on the authorities to refrain from using violence against demonstrators to avoid “slipping into internal fight”.

The cleric reiterated rejection to the use of unjustified violence against peaceful protesters.

At least 250 people have been killed in Iraq in October during protests, according to local human rights groups.

Anger has been building in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many people in the country have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.

According to World Bank figures, Iraq’s youth unemployment is around 25%. It is also ranked the 12th most-corrupt country in the world by several transparency organizations.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat
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