'Our youth are being shot at': Iraq's protests in pictures

'Our youth are being shot at': Iraq's protests in pictures
See in pictures: Iraq is being rocked by a wave of rallies over government corruption, unemployment and poor services.
3 min read
29 October, 2019
Iraqi students take part in anti-government demonstrations in front of their university in Basra [Getty]
Ambulances rushed through the crowd of protesters in Tahrir Square on October 25 – the day anti-government protests resumed in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. 

Sounds of gas canisters being fired at the protesters filled the air in the Iraqi capital, as did the gas itself, causing demonstrators to sometimes seek shelter in the neighbourhood's alleys and backstreets. They drank Pepsi and water to relieve the pain.

The anger of the protesters was undeniable.

Khadar al-Mohamadawi, an elderly man on crutches, drove his rickshaw from Sadr City to Tahrir Square to partake in the demonstrations.

Mohamadawi said he is economically desperate, and cried as he recalled the violence they faced.  

"My salary was cut," he told The New Arab, sobbing. "Our youth are being shot at."

Mohamadawi was saddened but undeterred by the chaos around him. Moments before his interview, a group of protesters rushed and pushed through the crowd in Tahrir, carrying a seemingly unconscious man. They then threw him in an ambulance, which proceeded to speed off – sirens blaring. 

Read also: Explainer: Why are people protesting in Iraq?

The beauty of this part of Baghdad was not hidden by the smoke in the air. As security forces fired gas canisters to disperse the crowd on the Jumhuriya bridge, the protesters fled to the picturesque Abu Nawas street – a lush greenway on the banks of the Tigris river. 

The protests were not merely about corruption and poverty. The attendees demanded the fall of the government, chanting "the people want the fall of the regime" a la the 2011 Arab Spring. 

Here are some scenes from the protests in Baghdad on October 25:

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

Ali Buktash drove two hours from the Diyala province to protest in Baghdad. He said he will stay there until the government is replaced.

"I want this government, that has looted Iraq from 2003 until now, out," he told The New Arab, referencing the US invasion that toppled the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.

His sign reads one of the protest's popular slogans: "Going down to take my right."

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

An ambulance makes its way through thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square.

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

Protesters try to breach a barrier near the Jumhuriya bridge. 

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

Many of the protesters flew and wore Iraqi flags. 

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

A man holds gas canisters he recovered from a street where security forces fired on protesters. 

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

A man shows a wound he sustained in the protests in Tahrir Square to a crowd of onlookers. 

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

Khadar al-Mohamadawi in his rickshaw, lamenting the violent crackdown on protesters he saw in Tahrir Square behind him. 

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

Khalid Obeid is an activist from Baghdad who wants Iraq to be free from both corruption and foreign interference.

"Deliver the corrupt people to justice," he told The New Arab. "For Iraqis – not Iran or Saudi."

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

Mahdi al-Khafaji identified himself as the sheikh, or leader, of the al-Khafaji tribe outside of Baghdad.

He said living in their village is like being in the "stone age."

"There are no services, no water, no health, no education," he told The New Arab

[Photo by Sofia Nitti]

A man holds a sign reading: "We want corrupt people to be tried justly." 

Adam Lucente is a freelance journalist. He has worked in Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia and across the region. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente

Sofia Nitti is an Italian video journalist based in Erbil, Iraq. Follow her on Twitter: @SofiaNitti

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