Thousands of Iraqis Protest Against Aljazeera

“Today we burn down Al-jazeera!” the protesters chanted.

Iraqis rally in protest against a talk show aired by Al-Jazeera television, in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 4, 2007. (AP)


Thousands of angry Shiites poured onto the streets in towns and cities across central and southern Iraq to protest what they took to be insults by the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television against Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric. Overturned pictures on the board show Qatar’s leaderSheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

Thousands of Iraqis rallied in two Iraqi cities on Friday to protest against Aljazeera television:

The protesters were angered by an Al-Jazeera talk show this week in which the presenter questioned al-Sistani’s leadership credentials.

Following Friday prayers in the southern cities of Basra and Najaf, al-Sistani supporters carried banners denouncing the channel and its host nation, the Gulf Arab state of Qatar.

“Yes, yes to al-Sistani,” read banners carried by some of the 1,000 protesters in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city. They gathered outside the local offices of Iraq’s largest Shiite political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, which has close links to al-Sistani.

In the holy Shiite city of Najaf, where al-Sistani lives, several hundred protesters marched in the city’s old quarter in solidarity.

“Today, we burn down Al-Jazeera,” chanted the protesters who carried portraits of al-Sistani. Others demanded that the channel as well as Qatar be sued. One Najaf protester carried several pictures of Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, with a shoe hoisted on the images to show contempt for him.


Iraqis rally in protest against a talk show aired by Al-Jazeera television, in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 4, 2007. Thousands of angry Shiites poured onto the streets in towns and cities across central and southern Iraq to protest what they took to be insults by the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television against Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

Al-Jazeera has been banned from operating in Iraq since 2004.

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