Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)
Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Calls for reform in Iraq

As parades marking the martyrdom of the Imam Hussein at the Battle of Taf in 680 CE continue across Iraq, protests against corruption are also gathering force, reports Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Islamic month of Muharram began two weeks ago and Iraqis, especially Shias, are mourning the martyrdom of the Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohamed, who was killed at the Battle of Taf in Muharram 61 AH, or October 680 CE.

Black banners have been put up across Iraq and millions of people are visiting the city of Karbala, 120 km south of Baghdad, where the Imam Hussein, his brother and 70 of his followers and relatives, are buried. The Battle of Taf took place near the city.

Special parades have been mounted to mark this sad occasion, but this year the parades have turned into protests against corruption, creating new problems for the Iraqi government and parliament. The anti-corruption protests began three months ago across Iraq, except in the three northern Kurdish provinces, where the protests began two weeks ago.

“Corruption and terrorism are the two faces of the same coin,” said Ali Hussein, a university student and activist. “Those who are in the government are using the parades marking the death of the Imam Hussein to win the elections and close our eyes to the corruption in the country. But we will continue our protests until we see real and tangible reforms.”

On his way to Karbala, Ahmed Saif, who is unemployed, told Al-Ahram Weekly, “We do not want to see high-ranking officials and the heads of the political blocs participating in the mourning, like in previous years. If the Imam Hussein is their icon, they should be like him and fight corruption. Enough is enough: we are exhausted by the corruption in Iraq.”

Meanwhile, the Iraq Integrity Commission, the country’s corruption watchdog, has published the names of dozens of high-ranking officials accused of corruption, but no one has yet been put on trial.

Talal Zobaee, the head of the Integrity Committee in the Iraqi parliament, issued a press statement announcing that officials and investigators from the Integrity Commission, which has begun issuing arrest warrants for officials charged with corruption, have been targeted for assassination.

Zobaee said that in the midst of the political problems plaguing Iraq, integrity advocates have stood up and said to those who have exhausted the people, trading in Iraqi blood through gangs, crimes, terrorism and thieving, that they have violated the sanctities, values ​​and principles of religion.

In a press statement two weeks ago, he said that Integrity Commission officials will continue their relentless war against those suspected of embezzling public money and will continue the fight against “dens of corruption with an iron fist” and restore looted money to the state treasury.

Zobaee said the commission will continue its work despite the threats made against it. “As long as our positions are not in the interests of corruption and the corrupt, we face threats on a daily basis, including threats of intimidation and physical liquidation,” he said.

He added that two Integrity Commission investigators, Ibrahim Jihad (a Turkmen) and Mazin Abdel-Wahid (an Arab) were killed in the Kirkuk province, 248 km north of Baghdad, because of their “excellent work” chasing the corrupt and their strong belief in the demands of the protestors.

Zobaee called on “all Iraqi clerics, politicians and demonstrators to stand together to cleanse our country of the dens of corruption and terrorism, which is the only way for Iraq to enjoy peace, justice and freedom.”

This Muharram, protestors are demanding reforms like those demanded by the Imam Hussein when he made his way from Mecca to what is now Iraq in 680 CE.

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