Human Rights Anti Terror And Somewhat

Human Rights, Anti-Terror (and somewhat Anti-American) Demonstrations

The demonstrations for human rights and against terrorism in several Iraqi

cities on Wednesday were organized by parties represented on the Interim

Governing Council. Althought the US press has tended to portray these

rallies as pro-American, they were far more ambiguous than that. The

organizers were able to get out about 5,000 demonstrators in

Baghdad, and smaller crowds gathered in other cities. One group that

mobilized its cadres for this demonstration was the Iraqi Communist

Party. Its supporters waved red flags emblazoned with the hammer and

sickle, according to ash-Sharq al-Awsat. It seems obvious that the

CPI was more likely demonstrating for human rights and against the

Baathists than in favor of the US per se. Other participants included the

Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi, feminist groups, and some

clerics and their followers. AFP said some demonstrators spoke of their

gratitude to the US for overthrowing Saddam, while others called the

Baathists “fascists” and vowed they would not be allowed to come back.

Ash-Sharq al-Awsat said that 2500 demonstrators came out in the holy

cities of Najaf and Karbala. But they carried placards calling for the

immediate turn-over of authority in Iraq by the Americans to the Iraqis.

As usual with demonstrations, various groups used them for their own

purposes. It is hard to see how a demand that the US give sovereignty

back to the Iraqis right now can be seen as pro-American.

The occasion of the demonstrations was actually the international day of

human rights.

The numbers reported on such occasions are usually inflated. What is

remarkable to me is that the parties who called for the demonstrations

were only able to get out a small number of supporters. All these

factions together could not produce a crowd the size of the ones Muqtada

al-Sadr seems able to assemble at will.

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