Alwaght- Iraqi people protested in the capital Baghdad to condemn Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat newspaper over an offensive cartoon depicting Iraq's most prominent Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
The demonstrators converged outside the gates of the heavily-fortified Green Zone, which is home to several embassies and government offices including the parliament and the prime minister's office, on Sunday, seeking to break into the Saudi embassy, Arabic-language al-Ahad television network reported.
The participants demanded that the Iraqi government adopt a clear stance on the insult to the prominent religious figure.
Ahad said security forces used tear gas to disperse the protesters who were trying to enter the area.
The report said there were injuries among the demonstrators after the Green Zone Protection Forces assaulted them.
Hezbollah slams Asharq al-Awsat’s affront to senior Iraqi cleric
Meanwhile, Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah has strongly condemned the offensive cartoon, emphasizing that the cleric enjoys a sublime position in the hearts and minds of Muslims.
“Ayatollah Sistani has always preserved Iraq’s safety, political stability and national unity,” the Lebanese resistance movement said in a statement released on Saturday evening, pointing to a June 2014 fatwa (religious decree) issued by the cleric, which called on all Iraqi citizens to defend their country shortly after Daesh unleashed its terror campaign in Iraq.
The fatwa gathered Shia fighters, Sunni tribesmen as well as Christian and Izadi volunteers under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, to prevent Daesh’s advances.
Hezbollah regretted the Saudi-owned newspaper’s disgraceful affront to the distinguished religious figure, stressing that no one can undermine Ayatollah Sistani’s honorable position and his leading role in Arab and Muslim societies.
"What the newspaper and its sponsors did best serves the interests of the Ummah’s enemies, led by the United States and the Zionist regime (Israel),” the statement read.
Hezbollah underlined that the insult serves all those who seek to stoke sedition, provoke religious and political divisions and create chaos as well as social unrest.
The Lebanese resistance movement finally called on the Iraqi nation to exercise unity and awareness, and work towards freedom and genuine independence.
MP demands closure of Saudi embassy in Baghdad
Kazem al-Sayadi, an Iraqi lawmaker with the State of Law Alliance, demanded that Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Baghdad be closed.
The Saudi newspaper, he said, has resorted to insulting Ayatollah Sistani after Saudi terrorists and their booby traps failed to sow discord among the Iraqis following fatwas issued by the top cleric.
"It is necessary to immediately close the Saudi embassy in Iraq," Sayadi wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page.
The Iraqi Radio and Television Union also called on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Speaker of the National Assembly Mohamed al-Halbousi to take up a formal position against the insulting cartoon.
Ayatollah Sistani thwarted Saudi plots: MP
Furthermore, Fadel al-Fatlawi, a member of the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, said Asharq al-Awsat’s insult pointed to the failure of Riyadh’s malicious plots to cause discord in Iraq.
“Ayatollah Sistani is a red line, and any transgression on his position is utterly unacceptable. Such an abusive measure is an extension of Saudi Arabia’s scenario to target Hashd al-Sha’abi figures and symbols,” Fatlawi told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
“Saudi Arabia has failed in its plots to cause chaos within the Iraqi security apparatus because of Ayatollah Sistani’s vigilance. His Eminence frustrated all conspiracies of the House of Saud; hence, they are trying to offend him through malicious media outlets. This is absolutely intolerable.”