Dozens of Iraqis protested near the Green Zone in central Baghdad on July 5, expressing anger over an “offensive" image published by Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper they said insulted the Shia authority Ali Al-Sistani.
An Iraqi army officer, who asked not to be named due to security reasons, told IranWire that dozens of protesters tried to storm one of the entry gates of the Green Zone in an attempt to reach the Saudi Embassy in the Al-Rashid Hotel. He confirmed that security forces used water cannons to disperse protesters and prevent them from accessing the embassy building or entering the Green Zone.
Protesters chanted slogans denouncing a caricature published in a recent issue of the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper showing a Shia cleric wearing a black turban and dismantling a train symbolizing Iraqi sovereignty.
Shia political forces and armed factions loyal to Iran condemned the image, which appeared on the front page of the Saudi-funded newspaper, despite the fact that the paper quickly removed the image from later editions and issued a statement confirming that the caricature was not a depiction of Al-Sistani.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Asaad Al-Nasiri, a dissident from the Sadrist Trend who joined the October revolutionaries in Al-Nasiriya governorate, posted a statement on Twitter clearly aimed at those who demonstrated against the Saudi Embassy in Iraq.
"Those who want to demonstrate should learn the meaning of morals, patriotism, and peace from the October revolutionaries, but instead they come out with empty allegations, mobilized by Iran, wanting to break the prestige of the state and attack public and private property. This violates even the directives of those who falsely claim that they went out to support him."