Jan. 12 - Supporters of the Iraqi Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki march in Baghdad, responding to three weeks of Sunni protests. Adam Brauner reports.
These demonstrators, numbering in the thousands, are supporting Shia Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Saturday, and they are responding to ongoing Sunni protests. Three weeks of Sunni protests started in December after the Finance Minister Rafaie al-Esawi's bodyguards and staff were detained on terrorism charges. Sunni leaders saw this as a crackdown on their sect, and say the Shia-led government has marginalized their minority community. This demonstrator says pro-Maliki protesters oppose Sunni demands, which range from Maliki's removal to the release of detainees and the suspension of an abused anti-terrorism law claimed to target Sunnis. This man is against sectarian fighting. (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) MATHEL ATHAB, A DEMONSTRATOR, SAYING: "We are here to denounce the sectarianism. No, no to division and no, no to sectarianism. We, Sunnis and Shia, are brothers and we will not sell this country, we call for Iraqis to be cautious of sectarians, the politicians who seek to divide the country." The unrest is turning into the most serious challenge yet for Maliki, who has made small concessions to the Sunni protesters without results.