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Sat. May 25th, 2024

Prominent Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr has publicly expressed his support for pro-Palestinian protests occurring at various universities across the United States, advocating for an end to police actions against the encampments. In a statement released on Saturday, Sadr, who holds significant sway in Iraqi politics, urged authorities to halt the crackdown on these voices advocating for peace and freedom.

“The voice of American universities demanding an end to Zionist terrorism is our voice,” Sadr stated. His comments come amidst a growing wave of protests across US campuses, with students rallying in support of Palestinians in Gaza. The health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory reported a death toll of at least 34,388 since the start of the conflict on October 7.

Moqtada Sadr’s backing of the US campus protests carries considerable weight. He previously led a militia that fought against American forces following the 2003 US-led invasion, which resulted in the fall of Saddam Hussein. He maintains a large following among Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority, a demographic that significantly influences the country’s political landscape.

The protests at US universities have faced significant resistance, with police conducting large-scale arrests to control the demonstrations. Authorities have employed chemical irritants and Tasers to disperse activists, raising concerns about freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest. These events are occurring against the backdrop of ongoing violence in Gaza, where Israel’s retaliatory measures against Hamas have caused widespread destruction.

Sadr’s support for the protests reflects a broader Iraqi sentiment favoring the Palestinian cause. All political factions in Iraq are aligned in their opposition to Israel, a stance shared by neighboring Iran. Notably, Iraq does not recognize the Israeli state, mirroring Iran’s position as Israel’s sworn enemy in the region.

As the protests continue to unfold across American campuses, Sadr’s endorsement may galvanize further support for the pro-Palestinian movement and draw additional attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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