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A FRANCE 24 team reporting from the southern Iraqi city of Karbala find a previously unthinkable development: demonstrators in the Shiite stronghold protesting against Irans interference in Iraq.
"No one is honest in this government,” intones Sabri addressing protesters at a Karbala roundabout now named “Freedom Square”.
“Corrupt! Corrupt!” the crowd roars its response in unison.
Iraqis have been demonstrating in the thousands since anti-government protests erupted October 1 in the capital, Baghdad, and quickly spread to other parts of the country.
The mostly peaceful demonstrations have sometimes been met with police firing live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters, killing more than 300 people.
In Karbala – one of Shiisms holiest cities, where a 7th-century battle resulted in Islams biggest schism between Sunnis and Shiites – the unthinkable has happened.
“The government doesnt even rule any more. Theyre Irans puppets. If Iran loosens its grip, then things can change,” explained a protester.
I get threats, a lot of threats
Open critiques among Iraqi Shiites of Irans interference in Iraq has been an unexpected development in the protest movement.
Earlier this month, protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in Karbala, amid reports of security forces and unknown gunmen opening fire.
But the threats have not stopped Sabri, a father of three who has stopped working to protest on “Freedom Square” every day.
Sitting in his modest living room next to his wife and young daughter, Sabri says hes protesting for his children and for Iraqs next generation
"I get threats, a lot of threats, against myself or my family. Once I was on stage and a man brandished a sharp object at me, but I will not stop. Today, when my daughter goes to school she has no bench to sit on, when I go to the hospital, there are medicine shortages… that's all because of the government. If I don't rise up and revolt, I will have failed my daughter's generation," he explains.
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