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[casi] A bunch of riff-raff !!

A bunch of riff-raff he says...


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.


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

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

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.

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