Thousands march on Baghdad in anniversary protest

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April 10, 2005

Iraq

Tens of thousands of protesters waving national flags marched in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, the anniversary of the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Chanting "No, no to the occupiers," they massed at Firdos Square on the site where Hussein’s statue was pulled down two years ago today.

Central Baghdad shut down ahead of the march and Iraqi security searched most protesters before entering the city. US and other peace-keeping forces remained out of sight. The march, sponsored by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, passed with no notable violence or arrests, and the crowd was dispersed by early evening.

There were simultaneously another 5000 protesters who marched in Ramadi, a city west of Baghdad.

Calling for the withdrawal of occupation forces, protesters aped the televised images of occupation forces by knocking down their own effigies of George Bush, Tony Blair and Saddam himself. The effigies were clothed in red — a symbolism they have been marked for death.

Iraqi Ali Feleih Hassan told the Associated Press, "No one accepts this. I want them out. They have been here for two years, and now they have to set a timetable for their withdrawal."

The US has been unable to set a timetable and is determined to stay until they believe the country is secure. Muqtada al-Sadr, an opposition negotiator, ultimately ended an uprising after signing a peace agreement with US forces last August.

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