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A bunch of riff-raff he says... HZ -------------------- http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=VYBZP2E41GA4UCRBAEZSFEY?type=searchNews&storyID=3121429 Iraqi uprising gathers pace By Miral Fahmy NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - A group of Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq has threatened violence if U.S. troops do not quit the holy city of Najaf, where rumours they had harassed a radical cleric sparked an angry protest by more than 10,000 people. The U.S. commander in the city, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, faced down the demonstrators. He flatly denied talk that his men had surrounded the cleric's house on Saturday and he deployed troops, arms at the ready, to get them to disperse. Leading supporters of the fiercely anti-U.S. preacher, Moqtada al-Sadr, were dissatisfied, however, and warned of an "uprising" in Najaf if the Americans failed to pull out within three days. The U.S. commander said he was concerned about the threat but played down the size of Sadr's following in Najaf. "If they don't leave, they will face a popular uprising," said Sayed Razak al-Moussawi, one of Sadr's aides, after the protesters presented the soldiers with a list of demands following a demonstration lasting more than two hours. Whatever the immediate consequences, the high feelings sparked by an obscure and minor incident were indicative of problems the Americans face among the long-oppressed Shi'ite majority. Frequent attacks on U.S. troops since the fall of Saddam Hussein have mostly been in Saddam's Sunni heartlands. SUPPORT UNCLEAR The U.S. commander in Najaf, Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Conlin, said he believed Sadr had limited support in Najaf, where other, more senior religious figures are based. A young cleric with limited religious authority but a considerable following among the poor, Sadr denounced the U.S. occupation in a sermon on Friday and has condemned U.S. efforts to launch self-rule by the Iraqi Governing Council. "Mr al-Sadr is a young, immature man, who is rapidly losing support in the city," Conlin said. "Sadr wants to import violence into this most peaceful city. But the people of Najaf do not want him." But asked if the threats worried him nonetheless, Conlin said: "Yes, because Sadr's people are a bunch of riff-raff." Following reports that troops had surrounded Sadr's house in response to his sermon, more than 10,000 Shi'ites marched on the Najaf office of the U.S. administration, though soldiers and barbed wire kept them more than a kilometre (a mile) away. At least two armoured personnel carriers guarded the building and U.S. soldiers were stationed on nearby rooftops. Emotions ran high as the crowd swelled, chanting support for Sadr and beating their chests in unison. Protesters held up a sign in English which read: "This is a warning to America." There were unconfirmed media reports of injuries. U.S. soldiers said some protesters had thrown rocks. Shi'ites, reversing their under-representation under Saddam and earlier Iraqi rulers, account for 13 of the 25 seats on the new Governing Council and other Shi'ite leaders have either backed the U.S.-appointed body or at least reserved judgment. __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? SBC Yahoo! DSL - Now only $29.95 per month! http://sbc.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk