[ View the story "Bound by sectarianism" on Storify] Bound by sectarianism Ten years after Saddam, Iraq's search for unity continues.
The Stream· Tue, Jan 08 2013 10:14:54
On December 20, 2012, the house of Rafi al-Essawi, Sunni Iraqi Finance Minister, was raided. His bodyguards were arrested and accused of running death squads. This event caused large protests among Iraq's Sunni population, who viewed it as unfair targeting of Sunni representatives.
Protests were organized in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Sunni majority Anbar province. Below is a picture from a protest in Ramadi on January 4.
This is the second time a major Sunni leader has been targeted, after former vice president Tariq al-Hashemi faced similar charges which forced him into exile. Protestors voiced their anger across many Western provinces in Iraq which are considered Sunni strongholds.
The following video shows protests in Ramadi in the Anbar province situated in Western Iraq.
Iraq: Protest In Ramadi, Anbar Province Wastern Iraq 12/30/12rearnakedsmoke
Al Jazeera's Omar al Saleh reports that the main focus of protests was Sunni discontent with Prime Minister Maliki's government, who many accuse of targeting the Sunnis and supporting a Shia-led government.
Iraq's Sunnis protest Shia-led regimealjazeeraenglish
Many of the protestors called for the establishment of an autonomous Sunni region.
If the once oppressed Kurds are now effectively independent, why can't the now oppressed Iraqi Sunnis have their independence? #IraqiSpringOmar
Some experts and government officials suggested that the sectarian sentiments were heightened by events in neighboring Syria. A number of Syrians have expressed support for the Iraqi protests on social media.
Lets not forget our brothers and sisters protesting in #Iraq...Protests have reached Baghdad despite government efforts to prevent them!Abdullah
Prime Minister Maliki's close ties with Iran has also been a major source of discontent among Sunni Iraqis.
#Maliki says #IraqiSpring is a foreign plot. Did he get his copy hot off #AssadSpeech?When was it translated from #Farsi, baba joon?Rana Kabbani
Despite sectarian undertones, some have stressed that all Iraqis (Shia and Sunni) have been suffering from the lack of progress and development in Iraq.
Why Shi'ite areas not joining protests? Surely also angry w/ corruption/incompetence of political elite? R protests alienating Shiites?#IraqNussaibah Younis
Netizens gave their opinions using the hashtag #IraqiSpring on Twitter.
The "they are Baathist" scare tactic is getting old and predictable, a common theme with all oppressive powers. #iraqispring #iraqشَوق - Shawk
1991: thousands took to the streets to protest as you do today. Didn't take long before they were silenced forever. #iraqispringGhadeer A
Some protestors raised the old Iraqi flag from the Saddam era during the protests. The protest in the picture below takes place 30 miles west of Baghdad, in Fallujah on December 28.
old iraqi flagAJstream
The Sunni-led protests received the unexpected support of Shia leader Moqtada al Sadr, who participated in a Friday prayer with the Sunnis at the Abdul Qadir Gilani mosque in Baghdad on January 4, 2013.
sadr and sunniAJstream
One of the key demands made by protestors was the release of nearly 700 female prisoners.
protest female prisonersAJstream
Iraqis share many grievances from corruption, inadequate infrastructure, unemployment and poverty. Yet security is the most important issue in eight provinces in Iraq, as
by blogger Seerwan.
excerpt from seerwan blogAJstream
Musings on Iraq
claims that real numbers of deaths were severely underestimated by the Iraqi government, in the post titled
Analyzing Violence in Iraq
Excerpt from musings on Iraq blogAJstream
Deaths in Iraq 2011-2012 Musings on iraqAJstream
Will the protests escalate sectarian tensions, or will they lead to the improvement of conditions for Iraqi Sunnis and Shias alike? Netizens shared their opinions on social media.
May this be the year we see #Syria and #Iraq get better and free.Narcenio Hall
The real intentions of #Anbar protesters are becoming clearer everyday. Unbelievable they get support from victims of #BaathM H المدفعي
Demos in #Anbar got my full support as long as it stays peaceful. Iraqi citizens have rights, as our government has duties.Ali Ajeena
Popular calls for the implementation of the demands of protesters in #Iraq's #Anbar and calls to issue a general amnesty lawHassan Altarazi