Revolutionary pride: Iraq protesters bring in trained pet lions to fight riot police dogs
In response to reports that security forces would be using dogs to contain protesters, the unnamed Iraqi unleased a more fearsome animal with him while walking the streets of his hometown, in Iraq’s Babel province, south of Baghdad.
Photos and video emerged online showing the man walking his lion - conveniently draped in an Iraqi flag – who reportedly roared and lunged at passers-by. Fortunately, the lion was contained using a heavy chain for the entirety of the incident.
Iraqi lions were of the Asiatic variety which today are an endangered species and can only be found in India’s Gujarat state. Lions are no longer native to Iraq, and the last known native Iraqi lion was killed in 1918 in the south of the country.
Protests against the Iraqi government began on October 1 in response to rampant corruption, high levels of poverty and youth unemployment, poor public services, and sectarianism.
The protests have been described as the greatest threat to the Iraqi government since the defeat of the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq in 2017.
More than 330 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured since the protests began and human rights groups have condemned security forces for using live fire and deadly military-grade tear gas grenades which have inflicted horrific injuries on protesters.
Iraqi protesters were out in force in Baghdad on Saturday, despite overnight violence against them, retaking four bridges in the capital from security forces.
Iraq’s foremost Shia Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Friday called on the government to enact “real reforms” without “stalling and procrastination”.